Skip to main content

Full text of "Marvellous Mesopotamia, the world's wonderland"

See other formats


1 




I^AAytA^_ 





o 



MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 



MARVELLOUS 
MESOPOTAMIA 

THE WORLD'S WONDERLAND 



BY 



JOSEPH T. PARFIT, M.A. 

CANON OF ST GEORGE'S, JERUSALEM 

AUTHOR OF "TWENTY YEARS IN BAGHDAD AND SYRIA," 
"AMONG THE DRUZES OF LEBANON AND BASHAN," ETC. 



LONDON 

S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO., LTD. 

GROSVENOR GARDENS, VICTORIA 



p%5 




Vz 



PREFACE 

Immediately after the outbreak of war I ventured 
to draw attention, by means of lectures, articles, 
and pamphlets, to the importance of Mesopotamia 
and the significance of Germany's Baghdad Railway 
schemes. The following pages contain the sub- 
stance of my lectures, with some additional informa- 
tion more recently available. The different aspects 
of the country, its relation to current events and 
present-day problems, are here presented in language 
and style simple enough, I hope, to convey to 
the rising generation the impression that Meso- 
potamia must not be overlooked, since its settle- 
ment and development within the next fifty years 
will influence the whole world's future. 

The American Continent will probably be affected 
as much as the Eastern hemisphere when the 
bulk of Europe's food supplies, cotton, and oil 
reach the Mediterranean by the new railways' 
waterways, and pipe lines from Mesopotamia and 
the East. The most important world-problems 
as well as the most fascinating developments of 
human existence will be associated for a century 
and more with the reconstruction of the Near East. 
This is where the ideals of the League of Nations 

5 

453332 



6 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

will be tested and put into practical operation ; 
it is where Western civilisation will be compelled 
to come to an understanding with the Mohammedan 
world. Here also, we shall observe the beginnings 
of a new era for the Jewish race, the Arab race, 
and the liberated Eastern Churches, while the most 
important outlets for Russia, Armenia, and the 
Caucasian Republics will be through the Black Sea 
and the Dardanelles. A satisfactory settlement of 
Mesopotamia will affect Constantinople, and will be 
of the greatest possible service towards the solution 
of so many other vital Near Eastern problems. 

The world to-day is very different from what 
it was a century ago, And American statesmen 
will assuredly find it impossible to stand aloof 
and watch, as if from another planet, the greatest 
changes that have ever affected the fortunes of 
mankind. Active co-operation in the resettle- 
ment of the Ottoman Dominions would probably be 
one of the best ways in which America could serve 
the interests of humanity at such a time as this. 
The immense developments foreshadowed in the 
following pages will undoubtedly be delayed if 
America refuses to respond to the cries of Armenia 
and the pleas of her overburdened Allies ; but 
American citizens will in due time as certainly 
rue the day when their statesmen refused a mandate 
for Asia Minor and declined to guard the golden 
gates of the world's wonderland. 

British statesmen have considered the im- 
portant question as to how much of Mesopotamia 



PREFACE 7 

could be safely evacuated by our military and 
civil administrators. Some urged our retirement 
to the confines of the Basra Vilayet, while the 
Prime Minister argued for the necessity of extend- 
ing our aid to the limits of the Mosul boundaries. 
General E. G. Barrow, in a letter to the Times ; 
wisely pointed out that a sincere attempt was made 
in 1 91 5 to restrict our operations to the Basra 
Vilayet, but the position was untenable, and only 
the timely arrival of a second division of troops 
prevented our losing both Basra and the oil-fields 
at the battles of Shaiba. I believe we should need 
as many troops to hold the Basra Vilayet as would 
suffice to guard the more natural frontiers of the 
whole of Mesopotamia. If we allowed the Turks 
to return to Baghdad and Mosul, the Arabs would 
justly plead that we had betrayed our friends, 
who were promised emancipation from the Turk 
in return for co-operation with the Allies. Many 
prominent Arabs in Mesopotamia told me, before 
the war, that our apparent affection for the un- 
speakable Turk was to them incomprehensible. 
It is practically certain that the Turks could never 
keep order in the Mosul Vilayet, for Constantinople 
would be obliged to connive at the predatory habits 
of the Kurds as surely as it has permitted the 
ravages of the rebels in Cilicia. No Arab adminis- 
tration is possible at present without substantial 
assistance from some European Power; and, more- 
over, a prime necessity for Mesopotamia is the 
opening up of secure communications with the 



8 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Mediterranean Sea, which are only feasible from 
the vilayets of Baghdad and Mosul. It would 
also be difficult for a Mandatory Power to make 
the country self-supporting without a large capital 
outlay, and consequently adequate control of the 
remunerative mineral and agricultural resources 
available in the northern parts of Mesopotamia. 
There would be no advantage to the inhabitants 
of Mesopotamia, and the whole of Europe would 
suffer from our evacuation of the Baghdad and 
Mosul Vilayets. 

There is apparently no doubt whatsoever that 
the British administrators are fully determined 
to place the government of the country in the 
hands of the Arabs, and that their supervision will 
be strictly limited to the spirit and letter of all 
that is meant by a mandate, which is so clearly 
enunciated in the principles of the League of 
Nations. 

To accuse the British Authorities of unrestrained 
Imperialism and selfish land -grabbing is a most 
mischievous misrepresentation of the unique services 
rendered to civilisation by the British race. We 
have always borne the heaviest share of those 
burdens which civilised nations cannot afford to 
shun, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia will be 
the first to benefit from the new responsibilities 
which the British are bound to assume on behalf 
of the civilised world. 

It is hardly necessary to add that the Meso- 
potamia to which I refer in these pages is not 



PREFACE 9 

" the land between the two rivers," as the name 
implies, but the whole " land of Irak," comprising 
the former Turkish vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad, 
and Basra. 

I have added a list of books and periodicals 
to which I am indebted for some of my information, 
and I offer my sincere apologies for the omissions 
and imperfections of so inadequate a treatment 
of this fascinating and important subject. 

April 1920. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

A History of Babylon. By Dr King. 
, Ancient History from the Monuments. S.P.C.K. 
ci Arabia, the Cradle of Islam. By Dr S. M. Zwemer. 
By-paths of Bible Knowledge. R.T.S. 
Explorations in Bible Lands during the Nineteenth 

Century. By Prof. H. V. Hilprecht. 
History of the Christian Church. By Canon J. C. 

Robertson. 
History of the Church Missionary Society. By Dr 

Eugene Stock. 
Islam under the Caliphs of Baghdad. By R. D. Osborne. 
Nineveh and its Remains. By A. H. Layard. 
The Excavations at Babylon. By Robert Koldewey. 
The Faith of Islam. By Rev. Edward Sell. 
The German Road to the East. By Evans Lewin. 
The Nearer East. D. G. Hogarth. 
The Nestorian Monument in China. By Prof. P. Y. 
* Saeki. 

*NjThe Secrets of the Bosphorus. By Ambassador 

Morgenthau. 
The Story of Extinct Civilisations. By R. E. Anderson. 
Bible Lands. 
The C.M.S. Review. 
The East and the West. 
The Geographical Journal, July 1917. 
The Moslem World. 
The Near East. 

The Times " History of the War." 

10 



CONTENTS 



1. THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA . . . . 17 

2. THE CAUSES OF THE WAR . . . -31 

3. THE STORY OF THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY . -51 

4. THE PERSIAN GULF 70 

5. THE BASRA BAR 94 

6. THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA 98 

7. THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT . . . I07 

8. THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF MESOPOTAMIA . I30 

9. THE SACRED SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS . 152 

10. THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN . . . l68 

11. CHRISTIAN MISSIONS IN MESOPOTAMIA . . 188 

12. MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA .... I97 

13. MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS . . . 2l6 

14. THE LAND OF FLOODS 229 

15. THE TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA . . 237 
INDEX . . . . . . . 252 



11 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



FACING PAGE 



British Residency and Consulate-General, Baghdad 

Disinfection of Mail-bags . 

Creek in Basra : " The Venice of the East 

Harbour and Town of Muscat 

Koweit, from Sheikh's House 

The Opening of New Bridge at Baghdad 

Arch of Chosroes at Ctesiphon 

View of Baghdad from Infantry Barracks 

Primitive Irrigation " Cherad " at Kut 'I Amara 

Courtyard of Native House in Kut '1 Amara 

Watching Arrival of British Steamer, Kut T Amara 

River Steamboat " Julnar " 

Birs Nimrood, near Babylon 

Town of Kefil and Tomb of Ezekiel 

A Canyon in Kurdistan 

Mountains of Jilu in Kurdistan . 

Mardin, with Ruined Turkish Citadel 

New Year's Day in Kerbela 

Old Turkish Gun on Ramparts of Old Basra 

One of the Locks of Hindiah Barrage 

Full View of Hindiah Barrage 

Anglo-Persian Oil Company's Refinery at Abadan 



3i 

3i 

5i 

69 

69 

85 

95 

95 

95 

107 

107 

107 

131 

153 

169 

169 

189 

197 

217 

229 

237 

237 



MAPS 
Outline Map of the Eastern Hemisphere, showing 

Overland Routes through Aleppo 
Map of Mesopotamia and the Near East 
Sketch Map of the Battle of Shaiba . 

13 



15 
17 
99 



THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE 

SHOWING 

OVERLAND ROUTES THROUGH ALEPPO 




[See page 22. 



POPULATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 



The revised figures of a recently completed census 
of Mesopotamia show the total population of the 
country to be 2,849,282. 

The following are the detailed figures : 



Division. 


Sunni. 


Shi'ah. 


Jewish. 


Chris- 
tian. 


Other 
Reli- 
gions. 


Total. 


Baghdad 


130,000 


54,000 


50,000 


15,000 


1,000 


250,000 


Samarra 


66,455 


14,215 


300 


... I ... 80,970 


Dialah . 


54,953 


46,097 


1,689 


397 : 9! 104,036; 


' Kilt 


8,578 


98,712 


38i 


127 j ... 107,798 


Diwaniyah . 


1,000 


192,300 


6,000 


5,000 | 200 204,500 


Shamiyah 


445 


189,000 


53o 


20 | 51 190,000] 


Hillah . 


15,983 


155,897 


1,065 


27 j 28] 173,000 


Dulaim . 
Basra 


247,000 


200 


2,600 


200 


... | 250,000: 


524,414 


7 5, 42 1 


62,565 


20,771 


2,13311,360,304 


24,408 


130,494 


6,928 


2,221 | 1,549 165,600 


Amara . 


7,000 


284, 700 


3,000 


300 ! 5,000 


300,000 


Muntafik 
Mosul . 


11,150 


306,220 


160 


30 | 2,440 


320,000 


42,558 


721,414 


10,088 


2,55i 


8,989 


785,600 


244,713 


17,180 


7,635 


50.670 | 30,180 


35o,378 


Arbil . 


96,100! 


4.800 


4,100 1,000 


106,000 


Kirkuk . 


85,0001 5,000 


1,400 


600 1 ... 


92,000 


Suleimanie . 
Total 


153,90c 


> 


1,000 


100 




155,000 


579,713 
,1,146,68: 


22, 1 8c 
i,494,oi5 


14,835 


55,47o 


31,18c 


703,378 


87,488 


78,792 


42,302 


2,849,282: 



15 



Marvellous Mesopotamia 

The World's Wonderland 

CHAPTER I 

THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 

Mesopotamia is destined to occupy the attention 
of various classes of people in the British Empire 
for many years to come, not only because of the 
administrative responsibilities that have fallen upon 
us, but chiefly because of the unique part this 
country is likely to play in the reconstruction of 
both Europe and Asia. 

Mesopotamia will always be associated with some 
of the darkest days, the saddest memories, and the 
greatest sacrifices of the War. The rapid advance 
to Basra filled us with hope, the muddles revealed 
by the Mesopotamian Commission covered us with 
shame, the surrender of Kut brought us to the verge 
of despair ; the deportation of the Armenians to 
Mesopotamia was one of the greatest horrors of 
human history ; the capture of Baghdad was one of 
those brilliant achievements which turned the tide 

17 2 



18 MARVEL:I.OBS MESOPOTAMIA 

of the great conflict and shattered the most cherished 
ambitions of our foes. The subsequent develop- 
ment of Mesopotamia under a British military 
administration is acknowledged to be a master- 
piece of efficient organisation, and many eminent 
men are now giving their best attention to the 
prospects and problems of a country which some 
pronounce to be a "white elephant," and. others 
believe will become a most prosperous adjunct of 
the British Empire. 

The value of Mesopotamia cannot be justly esti- 
mated solely from its mineral and other material 
resources, from the nature of its soil or the number 
and character of its present inhabitants. It is 
necessary to survey these in conjunction with other 
more important interests and advantages. The few 
critics who speak disparagingly of Mesopotamia 
have overlooked its most valuable assets, and their 
criticism, which is chiefly concentrated upon its 
agricultural prospects, has added nothing to what is 
already known. The difficulties of developing this 
neglected country have been well considered by 
many distinguished experts. In spite of all that 
can be urged to the contrary, they still claim 
enormous possibilities for its mineral and agri- 
cultural resources. 

History supports the contention of those who 
deny that the irrigated lands became " salted " and 
were consequently made desolate and useless 
thousands of years ago. It is a well-known fact 
that Baghdad under the Khalifs was one of the 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 19 

finest cities of the world, in spite of its " salted" 
suburbs, and as recently as the sixth century a.d. 
there were ten millions of people living upon the 
produce of a country where nine-tenths of this 
"salted soil" was then under cultivation. 

Experiments also have been made by British 
agricultural experts upon over a million acres of 
land, with results that prove, beyond the shadow 
of a doubt, the certainty of remunerative returns 
from the grain-producing areas of Irak. In the 
first experiment the yield of 450,000 tons of grain 
was greatly in excess of what was anticipated, when 
the estimate given was " 25,000 tons of wheat and 
100,000 tons of barley, in addition to fair crops of 
other grain." 

Another well-known fact is that the greater part 
of Lower Mesopotamia has not been irrigated for 
centuries, and it is probable that the " salted " con- 
dition of some of its plains is chiefly due to the 
incessant floods and the neglect of regulated irriga- 
tion, which should now, under scientific manage- 
ment, gradually restore fertility to these desolated 
regions. 

It should also be remembered that only in the 
southern portion of Mesopotamia, the ancient land 
of Shinar, is irrigation required, where also more 
barley than wheat is grown ; but north of a line from 
Hit to the Tigris there are extensive areas of good 
arable land, more suitable for wheat or cotton, where 
the rainfall is generally sufficient to bring the crops 
to maturity. 



20 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Experimental cotton gardens were laid out a few 
miles below Baghdad. Seeds were imported from 
different parts of the world ; most of the tilling was 
done by women ; a six inch high lift pump, driven by 
an oil engine, was fixed to the bank, and the water 
for the cotton fields was raised by earth channels. 
The type of cotton seed which seemed to thrive 
best was the " Middling American Upland," for 
which there is generally an immense demand. The 
yield was over 2000 lbs. of seed cotton to the acre, 
which is a much higher yield than that in India or 
Egypt. Four varieties of American seed were found 
to give the best results, and the specimens produced 
were described as " fairly long in staple, of good 
colour, and of high ginning percentage." The ex- 
periments fully proved that in large portions of 
Mesopotamia cotton can be grown of a longer staple 
and perhaps in greater quantities than anywhere 
else in the world. I have seen the cotton fields of 
India, Egypt, and Asia Minor ; but the fields that 
impressed me most were those I saw fifteen years 
ago in the neighbourhood of Mosul, where scientific 
experiments have not yet been made. It seems 
to be the almost unanimous opinion of our best 
agricultural experts that Mesopotamia could easily 
become one of the greatest granaries and one 
of the finest cotton-producing countries in the 
world. 

Even from an agricultural point of view, the value 
of Mesopotamia will not depend entirely upon its 
grain or cotton productivity. There is no other 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 21 

country that can compete with its date groves, and 
its orange gardens could be indefinitely extended. 
Model farms and vegetable gardens have been 
organised with most profitable results, while vast 
quantities of wool and liquorice were annually 
exported from Mesopotamia before the war. 

Though the present population is exceedingly 
small, yet the evidences are abundant to justify the 
expectation that, under a decent government, there 
will be a steady increase fully commensurate with 
the needs of the country as it gradually develops. 
In less than three years the population of Basra, 
for example, increased nearly threefold : thousands 
of Arabs, who fled from Turkish oppression, having 
returned from India and elsewhere. All the other 
towns in Mesopotamia show signs of a substantial 
increase in numbers. Thousands of Indians were 
permanently domiciled in Kerbela, Kasmain, and 
Baghdad before the war ; the pilgrims from Persia 
have enormously increased in numbers, and the 
sacred shrines will no doubt continue to attract 
many pilgrims and permanent settlers when the 
government has banished brigandage and blackmail 
from all the pilgrim roads. Some of the finest 
workers in Baghdad are the Christian Chaldeans 
who come from the villages in the north. If there 
is work to be done and decent pay to be had, the 
prolific Kurds will give up their predatory habits ; 
for, in the absence of the patronage hitherto accorded 
them by the Turkish regime, they will be forced to 
provide sustenance for their large families by more 



22 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

legitimate means. The enormous emigration of the 
Christian population which took place under the 
stress of persecution and oppression will also cease 
when security of life and adequate employment can 
be found in Mesopotamia. There is not the slightest 
cause for anticipating that the development of the 
country will be retarded on account of the sparse- 
ness of the population. Some of the same circum- 
stances that will henceforth give a new value to 
Mesopotamia will also help to provide it with the 
necessary population. 

This country will have a strategic value for many 
years to come, and must be occupied by a great 
civilised power while the world is passing through 
one of the most critical transitions of its history. 
The Berlin-Baghdad Railway was no fanciful enter- 
prise ; it threatened the existence of the British 
Empire, and we narrowly escaped annihilation by 
a timely recognition of the strategic importance of 
Mesopotamia. 

The most obvious reason for placing the highest 
possible value upon Mesopotamia is its central 
geographical position in view of the development 
of overland traffic and the needs of aerial naviga- 
tion. Here are the natural junctions for some of 
the greatest and busiest of the world's future high- 
ways. Multitudes of travellers will assuredly pass 
this way when journeying from almost any part of 
Europe to any part of Asia and Australasia. It 
is highly probable that the largest railway centres 
and the most important aerodromes will, within 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 23 

a quarter of a century, be found in Mesopotamia, 
and then its value will be obvious to all. 

The regeneration of Persia is one of the most ? 
hopeful results of the war, and if the only question 
to be considered was the immediate material ad- 
vantages to be derived from an Eastern country by 
the British race, it might be possible to prove that 
Persia is of more value to us for the moment than 
Mesopotamia. There would be little hope of Persia, 
however, if Kurdistan remained unsubdued, and 
little prospect of roads or railways to the Medi- 
terranean without some European control at 
Baghdad. 

There is still another reason for assigning a high 
value to Mesopotamia, and that is its influential 
relationship to the Mohammedan world. This may 
prove to be of more vital importance to civilisation 
than all its other values, but it is a matter of special 
concern to the British Empire, in which there are 
more Moslems than Christians. 

I have endeavoured elsewhere to trace the rela- 
tionship of Mesopotamia to Mecca, but here I wish 
to draw attention to the influence of Islam upon 
our Western civilisation, illustrated by what all my 
readers could not fail to notice. 

The Paris Conference was warned that the 
Turkish Empire must be dealt with quite differently 
from the other three enemy Powers, that all its 
decisions must in this case be affected by a religious 
influence, viz. the attitude of Islam. No such 
consideration was claimed for Austria; no one 



24 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

suggested that its dismemberment might be grievous 
to the Pope or to the millions of Catholic Christians 
in Italy and Spain ; yet, in spite of the wishes of 
the \ast majority of the Sultan's subjects, we were 
informed that the Turkish Empire must not be 
tampered with, because of the religious sentiments 
of multitudes who never belonged to the Ottoman 
dominions. The Paris Conference was called 
upon to consider such important questions as the 
safety of Europe, the vindication of justice, the 
punishment of Turkey for its unspeakable crimes, 
and the protection of waterways and railway 
routes that are of vital interest to the commerce 
of the world ; but all these questions must be left 
unsettled if the only feasible settlement should 
happen to clash with the wishes of some sections 
of Islam ! Must the British race forget the 
treachery of the Turks, their alliance with the foes 
of freedom, their attempt to ruin us by fanning 
the flames of religious fanaticism in our Eastern 
provinces ? Must we overlook the sufferings endured, 
the young lives sacrificed, scrap the millions we 
have lost, and run the risk of other perfidious 
alliances more terrible than those we have crushed ? 
Yet this is the meaning of the claim that the Turkish 
Empire must not be brought before the bar of 
justice because of its religious relationship to the 
Mohammedan world. The decisions of the Paris 
Conference will illustrate the extent to which our 
European civilisation is affected by the religion 
of Islam. 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 25 

There are, fortunately, many Mohammedans 
to-day who abhor the barbarism of the Turks, 
who refuse to mingle their religion with politics, 
who acknowledge the moral standards of civilised 
communities and are ready to recognise the rights 
of those whose religious convictions are contrary 
to their own. This more reasonable outlook will 
save civilised nations from the perils of religious 
fanaticism, but the chances of its survival will 
largely depend upon the influences that penetrate 
Arabia from the plains of Mesopotamia. 

The British occupation of Irak has endowed the 
country with two additional values, which though 
transitory are remarkably interesting. We may 
turn to Mesopotamia for a striking illustration of 
what we mean by civilised methods in the conduct 
of war ; here also we can behold the biggest experi- 
ment in State Socialism that has ever been made. 

Our military commanders have been accused of 
extravagance because so much money has been 
spent on docks, railways, and irrigation schemes. 
It may be true that many mistakes were made, 
that much money was unwisely spent and some 
expensive schemes were subsequently abandoned ; 
but all wars are characterised by wasteful extra- 
vagance, and this work in Mesopotamia was based 
upon military requirements. It was our way of 
carrying on a war ; it has proved to be most success- 
ful, much cheaper and ever so much more humane 
than the methods adopted by Germany. We 
conquered a formidable enemy in a land of morasses 



26 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

and floods, where there were no roads, no railways, 
and no transport facilities. We spent millions to 
construct what in other lands the Germans spent 
millions to destroy. We have also brought order 
out of chaos and subdued many hostile tribes by 
British methods of organisation rather than by 
intimidation. As a military expedient for keeping 
order amongst ignorant, turbulent tribes, an irriga- 
tion canal can claim to be far cheaper and much 
more useful than a punitive expedition. There 
are many religious fanatics in Mesopotamia, as 
the murder of Captain Marshall in Nejif so clearly 
proved ; but the hatred naturally engendered 
through the heretical beliefs attributed to a 
victorious army has been largely dispelled by the 
material benefits brought by the conquerors to the 
districts they invaded. The Turks failed to rid the 
land of brigands largely because they neglected to 
provide their subjects with legitimate means of 
gaining a livelihood. Every Kurd carried a rifle 
instead of a bag of tools because he followed his 
father's trade and levied blackmail on every hapless 
traveller. He will shed less blood in the future 
by taking a few civilised hints from the Railway 
Executive ! 

The inhabitants of Mesopotamia have given us 
unmistakable proofs of their sincerity in welcoming 
us. The traders acclaimed us as a commercial 
race, powerful enough to secure order in the interests 
of trade, and able to open up new spheres of com- 
mercial expansion. The Sheikhs have welcomed 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 27 

us because we have backed up their authority over 
their tribes and made them responsible for keeping 
order. The Fellah also welcomes us because we 
protect him against oppression and excessive 
taxation. We have enabled him to get a better 
livelihood than he ever had before. We have 
given him advice and assistance in irrigation and 
agriculture which has greatly increased his pros- 
perity. Even the heads of religion have wel- 
comed us. On the declaration of the Armistice a 
remarkable demonstration took place in the sacred 
city of Nejif. The spiritual leaders of the Shiah 
sects assembled with 70 Sayyids, 170 Sheikhs with 
2000 mounted and 500 unmounted followers, to 
congratulate the British upon the defeat of Turkey. 
In September 191 9 a great festival took place in 
Kerbela, attended by a record number of 200,000 
pilgrims. In a public manifesto the religious 
leaders proclaimed their intense satisfaction with 
the British administration and the facilities it 
graciously accorded to the pilgrim traffic. 

We have spent a lot of money upon Mesopotamia, 
but the Turks spent far more and did nothing. 
In view of their achievements, who will say that 
the military administrators were extravagant ? In 
addition to their conquests there is the inestimable 
value of a contented population, augmenting the 
utility of extensive docks, railways, and canals 
that will materially benefit the British as well as 
the natives for many years to come. 

It is greatly to be regretted that Labour leaders 



28 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

in the British Isles have apparently overlooked 
Mesopotamia, where experiments have been carried 
out in almost every phase and feature of State 
colonisation and State control. There are volumes 
of valuable records available, and a wealth of new 
information worthy of the most careful considera- 
tion by a Labour conference, which might reveal 
a more practical path to an earthly paradise 
than that pursued by the Bolshevists of Petrograd. 
The completion of the work so well begun will now 
apparently be entrusted to private enterprise, for 
the Government was obliged to listen to the clamour 
for economy. It is to be hoped, therefore, that 
the companies formed for exploiting the vast 
resources of Mesopotamia will consider the claims 
of consumers as well as the dividends of share- 
holders. 

There are many who believe the interests of the 
British public would be better served if the Empire 
Resources Development Commission could be per- 
mitted to control the major part of the agricul- 
tural, engineering, and mining operations that are 
necessary for the development of Mesopotamia. 
They claim that the kind of Government aid asked 
for by private companies has in the case of the 
Anglo-Persian Oil Company, for example, evi- 
dently benefited the shareholders without yielding 
any corresponding advantage to the British con- 
sumer. If the Government had retained, for ten 
years, sole control of the agricultural and mining 
interests of Mesopotamia, it would have been 



THE VALUE OF MESOPOTAMIA 29 

possible to relieve the British taxpayer by wiping 
off some of the heavy debts incurred through the 
Mesopotamian campaign, and in addition reduce 
the price of some of the necessaries of life exported 
from Basra to the British Isles. 

In any case, whether it be by Government 
control or by private enterprise, the development 
of these vast resources will play no small part 
in solving some of the labour problems of Europe, 
besides providing a valuable object-lesson in the 
advantages and disadvantages of colonisation under 
State control. 

It is obvious that Mesopotamia can only be 
gradually developed. No one would claim that it 
could possibly be otherwise. A suggestion was 
made in The Near East, not so fanciful as it may 
at first appear to be, that the pace of development 
will depend somewhat upon the progress made in 
designing tractors for use in agriculture. The 
writer urged that the area which men can cultivate 
is limited by the pace of the oxen which they drive, 
that if oxen can be replaced by tractors much more 
ground can be tilled, and irrigation schemes would 
become remunerative far more quickly than is 
possible under existing conditions. 

We have elsewhere reviewed the value of the 
ancient monuments of Mesopotamia, but we would 
again emphasize the fact that, apart from its 
potential resources and in addition to its value 
as a centre of civilisation for the Mohammedan 
world, the prime importance of Mesopotamia lies 



30 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

simply in its geographical position. It was this 
that gave Babylon its strategical and commercial 
importance, which made Baghdad also the capital 
of so great an Empire ; and once more, with the 
development of overland communications, trunk 
railways, tunnels, canals, and inland waterways, 
the geographical bridge between the continents, so 
long broken down by Turkish tyranny, has become 
so important to the world's progress that it may 
justly be claimed to be one of the most important 
countries in the world. 




The British Residency and Consulate General was one of the finest 
buildings in Baghdad. The Germans persuaded a native protege 
to build a small house by the side of the Residency. The 
British Consul-General compelled the Turks to make him build 
a high wall on the roof to prevent him spying on behalf of 
the Germans. 




In Basra and the Persian Gulf ports a weak disinfectant was squirted 
over the mail-bags to purify the contents from cholera and plague. 






CHAPTER II 

THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 

I made my first acquaintance with Mesopotamia 
and the Turkish dominions in the autumn of 1894, 
when I joined the staff of the C.M.S. in the city of 
Baghdad. I thought I was destined to reside at 
an outpost of civilisation where my life would be 
quite uneventful, but I could hardly have chosen 
a warmer spot, in more senses than one, where men 
through the summer nights sleep on the roofs 
and live in cellars by day, the hotbed of Eastern 
plotters and Western intriguers, the rendezvous 
of pilgrims and fanatics from every corner of the 
earth. I became acquainted with many Indian 
Nawabs who live in Baghdad and in the sacred 
city of Kerbela as pensioners of the Indian Govern- 
ment ; with renegade Afghan princes who had 
fallen into disfavour with the reigning Emir ; 
with restless Young Turks banished from Constan- 
tinople by the tyranny of Abdul Hamid ; with 
the leaders of the great Babi sect expelled from 
Persia, and afterwards removed to Acre ; with 
other more worthy notables, such as Prince Firman 

31 



32 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Firma, who was then living in exile, and subse- 
quently became Prime Minister of Persia. These 
Eastern phases of Baghdad life were fascinating 
enough, but, as the only European clergyman in 
Mesopotamia, I was brought into touch with features 
of Western politics which were of thrilling interest 
and of world-wide importance. In addition to my 
regular duties, I became honorary chaplain to the 
German Consulate, where I married certain German 
couples, baptized German infants, and was conse- 
quently invited to the dinners, feasts, and festivities 
that took place amongst the rapidly increasing 
Prussian community in the city of Baghdad. It 
was nearly twenty-five years ago that I first heard 
of Germany's Drang nach Osten and began to take 
an interest in the hopes, the aims and ambitions 
of the greatest military Power in Europe. From 
the lips of my German friends I learned that Bagh- 
dad would become the centre of a great Asiatic 
extension of the German Empire, an advanced base 
for world-wide dominion. I heard a great deal 
more about these Eastern ambitions whilst residing 
for three years in Jerusalem, where German influ- 
ence was particularly well marked. During a 
seven years' residence in Syria I had occasion to 
travel frequently into Asia Minor, along the line 
of the Baghdad Railway, where I could not fail to 
notice how completely the whole of that region 
was rapidly falling under the control of the German 
concessionaires. 
A few months before the war broke out, a 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 33 

European official came into my Seamen's Institute 
at Beyrout to play a game of billiards, and, in the 
course of conversation, informed me that he had 
just arrived from Constantinople, " which," he 
said, " is entirely in the hands of the Germans. The 
Sultan dare not go to the Selamlik, or interview 
any foreigner, without permission of the German 
Embassy." The growth of German influence in 
the Turkish Empire was remarkably rapid, and was 
unfortunately utilised to perpetuate the worst 
features of Turkish misrule, with the evident in- 
tention of posing as the best friends of the Turks 
and thus thwarting the economic or political 
ambitions of every other European Power. If 
Russia was, to some extent, responsible for the 
plight of Armenia, Germany was unquestionably 
to blame for the awful condition of Macedonia. 
She believed a reformed Turkey would spoil her 
prospects of control at Constantinople and imperil 
her plans for a Pan-German road from Berlin to 
Baghdad, so she did her utmost to foster the cor- 
ruptions of the old Turkish regime, and hampered 
every attempt that was made to establish peace 
and good government in the Balkan provinces. 

After the outbreak of war, Germany made no 
secret of her war aims in the East. Serbia must 
disappear, and the other Balkan States must lose 
their independence, in order that Germany might 
forge a permanent " political, economic, and military 
link between Hungary and the Turkish Empire 
between Constantinople, Berlin, and Vienna." It 

3 



34 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

is necessary to remember that the war did not begin 
with Belgium, but with Serbia, clearly because, at 
the conclusion of the Balkan wars, Serbia became 
the barrier across the path of Germany's long-con- 
templated expansion to the Eastern Mediterranean 
and the Persian Gulf. This fact became more and 
more evident with the progress of the war, and many 
German writers acknowledged that these Eastern 
aspirations were the real causes of the war. 

In the Kreuz Zeitung Herr Otto Hotzsch wrote : 
" Germany's Turkish policy the Berlin-Baghdad 
idea was the one pillar of her world-policy and 
the one great occasion of conflict with Great 
Britain." In July 1918 the Rheinisch Westfdlische 
Zeitung declared that, H should the British perman- 
ently retain Mesopotamia, there would be no possi- 
bility of German predominance in Asia Minor. 
Everything must be done to free Egypt from the 
claws of the British lion and to place the Suez 
Canal, as in old times, under Ottoman authority, 
and consequently under that of the Central Powers." 
Again, on 5th October 191 9 the following words 
appeared in Capt. Von Salzmann's military article 
in the Vossische Zeitung : " Had we succeeded in 
cutting in two the British world-empire by the 
occupation of Egypt and the Suez Canal, by com- 
pletely safeguarding the Persian Gulf-Afghanistan 
line, the war would have been decided in our favour." 

These extracts suffice to illustrate the avowed 
intentions of Germany in the Near East. Her 
plans not only constituted a menace to British 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 35 

hegemony in India, but were evidently deliberately 
aimed at the ruin of the British Empire. A well- 
known French publicist expressed his conviction 
in the Figaro that, " If the Germans enter Con- 
stantinople and open their great road from the 
mouth of the Elbe to the mouth of the Euphrates 
and Tigris, the whole fabric of British Imperialism 
is concerned. The whole magnificent edifice of the 
British Empire will be shaken to its foundations." 

Prince Lichnowsky confessed in his Revelations 
that Great Britain yielded again and again to the 
ever-growing demands of Germany's schemes in 
Mesopotamia, though many of our leading states- 
men protested that these concessions would imperil 
the safety of the British Empire. Whilst we were 
making every possible attempt to appease Germany, 
her representatives were actively intriguing to under- 
mine British prestige in the East and to oust the 
last semblance of British influence from Afghanistan, 
Persia, and the Persian Gulf. 

In addition to this deliberate bid for military 
supremacy and political power, it was also evident 
that Germany aimed at a monopoly of the world's 
trade. In November 1917 President Wilson 
criticised Germany's appeal for peace and asserted 
that, whilst Germany referred to Belgium and 
Alsace-Lorraine, she persistently declined to make 
any suggestion about what was, after all, the heart 
of the whole matter. She contended that all 
questions concerning the Balkan States and the 
old Turkish Empire were matters of her domestic 



36 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

concern. The President declared " that lying 
behind the thoughts of the German Government, 
in its dreams of the future, was the determination 
to dominate the labour and industry of the world. 
The Germans were not content with success by 
superior achievement ; they wanted success by 
authority. The Berlin to Baghdad Railway was 
constructed in order to bring a threat of force down 
the flank of the industrial undertakings of half a 
dozen other countries, so that, when German com- 
petition came in, it would not be resisted too far 
because there was always the possibility of getting 
German armies into the heart of that country 
quicker than other armies could be got there. 
From Hamburg to Baghdad a bulk of German 
power would be inserted into the heart of the world. 
If she could keep that, she would keep all that her 
armies contemplated when the war began, and her 
power to disturb the world would last as long as 
she kept it." 

The control of Turkish finance and the Ottoman 
railways by the Berlin Bank was of a nature that 
threatened to throttle completely any but German 
trade. The merchants in Turkey were able to 
offer three years' credit to their customers, for the 
Berlin Government supported the claims of her 
bankers, who attracted depositors by the offer of 
4 per cent, interest upon current accounts. 

Twelve months before the outbreak of war I 
paid a visit to the mountains of the Hauran south 
of Damascus. I had conversations with all the 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 37 

leading chiefs of 50,000 Druzes whom the Turks 
attempted at the instigation of Germany to 
deprive of their time-honoured privileges. They 
were thought to be too friendly to England and too 
dangerously near the Hedjaz Railway ; so they had 
to be crushed. A large army under Sami Pasha 
was brought against them, but after many months 
of guerilla warfare he failed to subdue these moun- 
tain warriors; so he resorted to more "kultured" 
methods, in accordance with his German training. 
He invited the chiefs to a conference and promised 
them safe conduct. They were all arrested as soon 
as they arrived at the General's tent, for " necessity 
knows no law," as the German Chancellor said, and 
" scraps of paper can easily be torn up." The lead- 
ing Druze chief was executed in Damascus, and his 
brother only saved his life by sending a messenger 
to the villages to fetch his old mother, who quickly 
collected three thousand five hundred pounds in 
gold as a bribe to the General. The chief was then 
banished to Rhodes, and when the island was taken 
by the Italians he was released and with difficulty 
reached Cairo. Lord Kitchener intervened with 
the Turks on his behalf, and he was eventually per- 
mitted to return to the Hauran, where I saw him on 
the occasion of my visit. He showed me, amongst 
other things, his new steam flour-mill, and told me 
to observe that all the machinery was made in 
Germany. He whispered a few words in my ear 
which led me to make further inquiries elsewhere. 
I learned that English merchants had introduced 



38 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

twenty or thirty oil engines amongst the Hauran 
Druzes ; but Germany came along to assist her 
ally the Turk, and a Prussian engineer prowled 
around these mountain villages of the Hauran, 
ostensibly to undertake necessary repairs, with the 
result that the English engines were soon displaced 
by those of German manufacture. Backed by the 
German Government through its consuls and its 
banks, the engineers of Haifa were able to introduce 
more than five hundred engines into the Hauran, 
where, under ordinary circumstances of legitimate 
trade, we could easily have secured an excellent 
market for the merchandise of Great Britain. 

The imposition of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty 
upon prostrate Russia clearly brought to light 
another feature of Germany's war aims. She 
desired to monopolise the food-supplies of that 
great country for her own manufacturing areas, 
so that her manufactured goods would in return 
be forced upon the Russian merchants. The 
anticipated German control of Constantinople and 
the Dardanelles likewise aimed at the economic 
ruin of Russia or her submission to German 
demands. 

Another great scheme of navigable inland water- 
ways was frequently referred to by eminent German 
writers. By deepening her canals and joining up 
the great rivers of Europe she would be able to 
send ships of 1500 tons burden through the continent 
from the North Sea to the mouth of the Danube. 
The scheme was expounded at the Central Europe 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 39 

Congress at Munich by Professor Oelwein, v who 
sketched the ideal canal system as follows : 

1. The Central Canal connecting all the navigable 

streams, from the Rhine to the Vistula, 
which flow into the North Sea and the 
Baltic. 

2. Navigable connection of the North Sea and 

Baltic ports with the Danube and the Black 
Sea by way of the Danube-Oder Canal. 

3. Navigable connection of the Rhine with the 

Danube and the Black Sea by the canalisa- 
tion of the Main and the construction of a 
new Ludwig Canal. 

These canals would form the main 
arteries from west to east and from north 
to south-east. The subsidiary waterways 
would be as follows : 

4. The Rhine connected with the Dortmund-Ems 

Canal in the north, and, after canalisation 
of the way from Basel to Schaffhausen, con- 
nection with Lake Constance in the south. 

5. Continuation of the Weser to the Main and to 

the Danube and to Munich. 

6. The Elbe, connected with the ways that are 

already being canalised, to Prague. 

7. The Oder. 

8. The Vistula, connected with the continuation 

of the Danube-Oder Canal to Cracow. 

9. Continuation of the Danube-Oder- Vistula 

Canal to the Dneister. 



40 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

10. Canalisation of the Save, connected on the 
one hand with the Danube by a canal 
from Bukovar to Samatz, and on the other 
hand with Fiume and the Adriatic. 

ii. A waterway from Semendria on the Danube 
through the valleys of the Morava and the 
Vardar to Salonika. 

These inland waterways were to be supplemented 
by some remarkable canals through the Manytch 
Depression from the Don to the Volga. As the 
Caspian Sea is 85 feet below the level of the Black 
Sea, it was pointed out that by means of these canals 
a considerable portion of the low-lying districts of 
South Russia would be flooded by raising the level 
of the Caspian Sea, and thus create a navigable 
waterway from the Black Sea to the Far East. It 
was furthermore declared that the whole of German 
interests in Europe and Asia could be adequately 
protected by an enormous establishment of German 
Zeppelins and airships upon the Gobi plateau. 
Many of these vast schemes appear somewhat 
visionary and impracticable, but these are times of 
great engineering achievements, and it is impossible 
to deny that further advances in scientific know- 
ledge will alter the aspect of many great problems 
within the next fifty years. It is clear, however, 
that Germany ignored the claims of other nations, 
for her plans were outlined upon the assumption 
that the whole world must lie at her feet. 
To understand the significance of her intentions, 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 41 

it is necessary to glance at a few geographical and 
historical facts. If we regard Asia Minor as belong- 
ing more to Europe than to Asia, we shall observe a 
triangular stretch of land lying in the heart of the 
Eastern Hemisphere and forming a junction for 
the three continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. 
Mesopotamia is on one side of the triangle, Syria and 
Palestine on the other, Aleppo lies at the apex, 
while a line drawn from Gaza to Basra forms its 
base. These little lands have played a most im- 
portant part in the world's history. Besides being 
the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of 
peoples, nations, languages, and religions, they 
have contained for millenniums the capital cities of 
great world-empires. For many centuries also the 
greatest of the world's highways passed through 
this important area. The geographical importance 
of Mesopotamia and its ancient capitals is well 
described by the late Dr King in the following 
words : 

" Babylon's geographical position endowed her 
with a strategical and commercial importance which 
enabled her to survive the rudest shocks to her 
material prosperity. A glance at the map will show 
that the city lay in the north of Babylonia, just 
below the confluence of the two great rivers in 
their lower course. Built originally on the left 
bank of the Euphrates, she was protected by its 
stream from any sudden incursion of the desert 
tribes. At the same time she was in immediate 
contact with the broad expanse of alluvial plain to 



42 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

the south-west, intersected with its network of 
canals. But the real strength of her position lay 
in her near neighbourhood to the transcontinental 
routes of traffic. When approaching Baghdad from 
the north, the Mesopotamian plain contracts to 
a width of some thirty miles, and although it has 
already begun to expand again in the latitude of 
Babylon, that city was well within touch of both 
rivers. She consequently lay at the meeting-point 
of two great avenues of commerce. The Euphrates 
route linked Babylonia with Northern Syria and 
the Mediterranean, and was her natural line of 
contact with Egypt ; it also connected her with 
Cappadocia, by way of the Cilician Gates through 
the Taurus along the track of the later Royal Road. 
Herodotus describes the Royal Road of the Persian 
period as passing from Ephesus by the Cilician Gates 
to Susa, and it obtained its name from the fact 
that all government business of the Persian Court 
passed along it. The distances, given by Herodotus 
in parasangs and stades, may well be derived from 
some official Persian document ; but it followed 
the track of a still earlier Royal Road, by which 
Khatti, the capital of the old Hittite Empire, main- 
tained its communications westward and with 
the Euphrates valley. Farther north, the trunk 
route through Anatolia from the west, reinforced 
by tributary routes from the Black Sea, turns at 
Sivas, on the Upper Halys, and, after crossing the 
Euphrates in the mountains, first strikes the 
Tigris at Diarbekir ; then, leaving the river for the 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 43 

easier plain, it rejoins the stream in the neighbour- 
hood of Nineveh, and so advances southward to 
Susa or to Babylon. A third great route that 
Babylon controlled was that to the west through 
the Gates of Zagros, the easiest point of penetration 
to the Iranian plateau and the natural outlet of 
commerce from Northern Elam. At the present 
day this forms the great trunk road across the 
highlands of Persia, by way of Kermanshah ; and 
since the Moslem conquest it has been the chief 
overland route from the farther East for all those 
making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Babylon thus 
lay across the stream of the nations' traffic, and in 
the direct path of any invader advancing upon 
the southern plains." x 

I venture to add another quotation from a more 
recent book by Mr Evans Lewin, who says : " Meso- 
potamia itself, the country between the rivers, 
forms one of the most remarkable regions of the 
world. Stretching between the two mighty water- 
ways of the Tigris and Euphrates and spreading from 
the foothills of the Armenian mountains to Baghdad, 
and thence by extension to the head of the Persian 
Gulf, it forms a natural avenue between the East 
and the West, a strategic highway of supreme im- 
portance, narrowing to a comparatively small 
outlet into Persian waters, and an economic road 
over which were carried the riches of Asia to be 
exchanged for the products of Europe. Held 
successively by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, 
1 History of Babylon, p. 4. 



44 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Turks ; the home of 
many of the mighty cities of antiquity, such 
as Babylon, Nineveh, Asshur, Edessa, Hit, Ctesi- 
phon, and Thapsacus ; crowded with the wonder- 
ful ruins of buried civilisations, and holding in its 
alluvial lands the secrets of primitive ages it 
presents a standing evidence of the frailty of all 
things and of the permanence of change and decay. 
Mighty emperors have held sway over its destinies ; 
warriors have crossed its torrid and sweltering 
lands on their journeys of conquest. Here were 
the palaces of Sennacherib and Asshurbanipal, 
of Nebuchadnezzar and Tiglath - Pileser. Here 
marched Alexander on his way to the conquest of 
India ; Trajan, Julian, Saladin, and the romantic 
Haroun 1 Raschid, who made Baghdad the centre 
of all the wit, learning, and art of the Moslem world ; 
and to these regions have turned the thoughts of 
conquerors and warriors in all ages of the world. 
It is obvious that a country which has played so 
important a part in history from whose bosom 
have sprung many of the civilising agencies of the 
past ; which has attracted the adventurous from 
all parts of the known globe must possess qualities 
and resources of an uncommon order. In addition 
to its extraordinary fertility, it was the highway of 
antiquity and the clearing-house of commerce. 
Germans, with their keen eye to commercial 
advantages and with their appreciation of strategic 
values, have recognised, in spite of new strategical 
and commercial developments, the possibility of 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 45 

re-erecting the ancient empires of the East and of 
re-opening a great commercial and therefore strate- 
gical route from Hamburg to the Persian Gulf, and 
incidentally of attacking Great Britain in two of 
her most vulnerable points Egypt and India." 1 
The monarchs of Persia brought formidable armies 
from Mesopotamia along these ancient highways 
to Egypt and to Europe. Alexander the Great 
ultimately drove back the Persians at the battle of 
Issos, and routed them near the plains of Arbela. 
On his return from India he chose the banks of 
the Euphrates for the capital city of his contem- 
plated world-empire, but he died at Babylon before 
his plans were complete. 

There is another great road that was immensely 
important for many generations. It became known 
as the " Silk Street " route, from the fact that the 
silks from China were brought by caravans along 
this road in almost a straight line to the shores of 
the Mediterranean. The route was recently sur- 
veyed by Sir Aurel Stein on the initiative of the 
Government of India. He took two and a half 
years to complete his survey, and reported many 
interesting things that clearly indicated the popu- 
larity of this famous road for many centuries. 
The greater part of the road has also been surveyed 
by modern engineers with a view to railway con- 
struction. Wherefore we may assume that in due 
time there will be a trunk railway running from 
Pekin through Central Asia, and thence either 
1 The German Road to the East, p. 33. 



46 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

through Persia to Baghdad or more directly to 
Aleppo, where it will meet the great Baghdad 
Railway. On the 3rd of April 191 6 a lecture was 
delivered in Berlin by a member of the Prussian 
Parliament before the members of the German- 
Chinese Union, in which the lecturer claimed that 
" the German world-empire could only be estab- 
lished on the basis of overland dominion extending 
from the North Sea to China by way of Turkey 
and Persia. A British blockade could be rendered 
absolutely ineffective if Germany controlled the 
ancient " Silk Street " highway. China and Persia 
could provide the legions for the war of 1927 with 
all the food, petrol, copper, and cotton required to 
establish the Teuton as master of Europe and Asia." 

In the days of Queen Elizabeth, when the British 
began to lay the foundations of their present com- 
mercial prosperity, there was established in Aleppo 
the headquarters of the famous Levant Company. 
The silks from China and the treasures from India 
which found their way to Aleppo, were sent off by 
British merchants from Alexandretta to the British 
Isles. There were then so many pirates in the 
Mediterranean Sea that it became necessary to 
organise, for the protection of merchantmen, what 
then became known as the British Royal Navy. 

Ever since the Turks came into possession of 
these Eastern highways, they have been practically 
useless and unsafe for all ordinary travellers, so 
that the important junction between the continents 
has been blocked for centuries. 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 47 

The insecurity that prevailed at the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean Sea led to the discovery of 
America when Columbus and others set out to 
find a safer route round to the East Indies, and con- 
sequently discovered the Western Continent. It 
was in those days that the Mediterranean merchants 
controlled the major part of sea-borne traffic, and 
the most important ports of the world were Venice, 
Genoa, and Amain. In 1497 Vasco da Gama dis- 
covered the Cape route to India, with the result 
that the flourishing ports of the Mediterranean Sea 
were practically ruined by a change of front in the 
world's activities. With the opening of the Suez 
Canal, the Mediterranean became once more the 
most important route from West to East, but the 
immense changes which have taken place during 
the last thirty years all tend to accentuate the 
growing importance of the ancient overland routes 
of the world. 

The Swiss mountain ranges have now been 
tunnelled in a remarkable way, powerful locomo- 
tives have come into use, international sleeping- 
cars and refreshment-cars are available for over- 
land travellers on transcontinental railways, so 
that before the war it was possible to go with ease 
and comfort from London to Constantinople in 
three and a half days. Motor traffic is being 
further developed, electric power for railways is 
being brought into more frequent use, inland water- 
ways can now be utilised for cheap transport in a 
way that was impossible half a century ago. Many 



48 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

schemes are being brought forward by prominent 
engineers for a great ship canal from Antwerp to 
Marseilles ; for a branch waterway from the Danube 
to Salonika ; for another great canal, 969 miles long, 
from the mouth of the Orontes to the head of the 
Persian Gulf. In addition to motor roads, inland 
waterways, and the great railway routes, the world 
is now face to face with a new aerial navigation 
that will necessitate the organisation of recognised 
overland routes and the establishment of aerodromes 
which may become as important to the traffic of 
the future as the rocky harbours and storm-pro- 
tected ports have been to the sea-borne traffic of 
the past. 

Never before have the nations of the world been 
compelled to recognise, as they do to-day, their 
absolute dependence upon one another for very 
existence. Problems of finance, labour, and food 
supplies are all international. The great manufac- 
turing areas of the West cannot exist without 
adequate supplies of raw material from Asia and 
Africa, and multitudes of Easterns have perished 
from the lack of supplies from the West. It is a 
matter of prime importance to the world that all 
the essential lines of communication should be 
most carefully guarded and constantly kept open. 
It is hardly less important that the vast neglected 
areas of Asia and Africa should be properly 
developed in order to safeguard humanity from 
famines, wars, or social revolution. It is further- 
more impossible for the Western peoples to hope 



THE CAUSES OF THE WAR 49 

for a higher standard of living without the greater 
production of which these Eastern lands are capable, 
and the possibility of more rapid communication 
between East and West. 

All these considerations have brought the little 
lands that join the three continents into far greater 
prominence than ever they were before. The 
nations of the world will perish by social upheavals, 
tumults, famine, and war if Turkey is permitted any 
longer to hold the bridge and block the way. The 
statesmen of Europe saw this ; Germany saw it, and 
tried to place her mailed fist upon the key to the 
whole world's future. The military correspondent 
of the Times was not far wrong when he sug- 
gested that this war might become known as " The 
War of the Turkish Succession/' Prussia's military 
adventures had always proved to be so profitable 
that she deemed herself justified in preparing 
for world-wide conquest. The Baghdad Railway 
scheme was the most important instrument that 
she would utilise for this end, and by capturing 
the control of the Turkish Empire she would 
obtain command of the Dardanelles, the Euphrates 
valley, and the Suez Canal. It is also well known 
that she intended to drive a great German wedge 
across the heart of Africa, for the British in East 
Africa discovered that German maps were placed 
in the hands of native schoolmasters to teach the 
children how much of Africa would come under 
German control with the expulsion of the British at 
the conclusion of the war. So many concessions 

4 



50 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

had been made to Germany's persistent demands in 
the Near East that her contemplated world-empire 
began to assume a definite shape. The Mittel 
Eur op a scheme would give her control of one con- 
tinent, the Baghdad Railway with the hegemony 
of the Ottoman dominions would give her control 
of another, and the restoration of Egypt to the 
Ottoman Empire would bring the third continent 
under her control. Australia then would become 
her prey, and the greatest world-empire ever con- 
ceived would be at the feet of the Kaiser, who, of 
course, would champion the cause of the Teutons 
in the Western Hemisphere. There is now no 
question that Germany faced eastward when she 
began the war, and that Mesopotamia was her real 
front. With the defeat of Germany, the world can 
only reap the fruits of victory when adequate safe- 
guards have been secured in the East for the great 
overland routes from Paris to Pekin, from London 
to Australia, from Petrograd to the Cape. 



CHAPTER III 

THE STORY OF THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 

When Germany defeated France in 1870 she not 
only deprived her neighbour on the western border 
of the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, but she 
reorganised the Central States of Europe into a 
great unified German Empire, and at once began 
to push forward a large number of railway schemes 
eastward through the Balkan States towards 
Constantinople. For this purpose she was able to 
utilise the enormous indemnity which she had 
wrested from France, so that in less than twenty 
years a great new trunk line was completed through 
Eastern Europe, and in 1888 the first train of the 
Orient Express steamed into Constantinople. This 
necessitated a new defensive and economic outlook 
for all the countries of Europe. 

For many years Great Britain had sought for 
opportunities to develop a short route from Europe 
to India. In 1837 large sums of money were spent 
upon the survey of the Euphrates valley. A 
concession for a railway from Alexandretta to the 
Persian Gulf was obtained from Turkey in 1851. 

51 



52 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

For various reasons, more or less connected with 
the knotty Near Eastern problems, this Euphrates 
valley scheme was unfortunately given up. In 
1876, when we purchased four million pounds worth 
of shares in the Suez Canal, we apparently believed 
we had secured something better than a railway 
line through the Euphrates valley. It looked as 
though the interests of the British Empire were 
adequately safeguarded by the substantial control 
we thus acquired over the newest and shortest 
route to India and the East. A few years after- 
wards, however, it became evident that another 
road was about to be developed by Germany 
through Constantinople and the Euphrates valley, 
for an important little railway from Scutari to 
Ismid passed from British ownership into German 
hands. 

This line, which may well be called the first 
section of the Baghdad Railway, was originally 
constructed by the Turkish Government, but under 
Turkish control it was a complete financial failure. 
It runs through a very delightful piece of country, 
where many of the wealthy Turkish officials and 
merchants have their private residences. They 
go by rail and ferry to Constantinople every day, 
just as the London city man lives in the suburbs 
and goes daily to London by train. Under the 
corrupt system of government that prevailed in 
Turkey, only the poor and those without influence 
were expected to pay their fares ; the pashas and 
their relatives rode to and fro free of charge ; they 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 53 

transported their possessions, their merchandise, 
and the goods of their supporters, gratis. The 
pashas received bribes for the privileges they 
secured to their friends, so they practically pocketed 
all the proceeds, while the railway administration 
went bankrupt. 

The Government now tried to sell the line to a 
British company, but the German and the French 
ambassadors protested that its sale to the British 
would be regarded as an unfriendly act. An agree- 
ment was eventually arrived at whereby the line 
was leased to a British company for twenty-five 
years, and the lessees were to have preferential 
rights for extending the line to Angora and 
eventually to Baghdad. Thus the great Baghdad 
Railway scheme was originally a British concern, 
and I have shown that it was also a British con- 
ception, for the Euphrates valley route was surveyed 
by the British in 1837, in 1851 we held concessions 
for a railway, and now once more in 1878 a British 
company leased a railway with concessions that 
provided for its extension to the city of Baghdad. 
By the end of three years the new directors had 
converted a deficit of 40,000 per annum into a 
profit of 24,000. 

When the Ismid line passed into the hands of a 
British company, two of the directors were un- 
fortunately Germans, who persistently endeavoured 
to bring the railway under German control. They 
succeeded in compelling the British representatives 
to retire ; then the line reverted to the Government, 



54 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

and was subsequently handed over by the Turks 
to the Deutsche Bank. 

Under British control, all the materials, the 
machinery, and most of the staff came from 
England; but after 1881 everything came from 
Germany. The Germans now obtained further 
concessions with additional guarantees from the 
Turks, and launched a new company upon the 
London financial market. Strange to say, the 
British company had failed to interest English 
financiers in the British Baghdad Railway scheme, 
but the new company under the auspices of the 
German Bank succeeded in raising from London 
1,000,000 in 5 per cent, bonds. 

In less than five years from the acquisition of 
the Scutari-Ismid Railway the Germans had com- 
pleted a line to Angora, and two important new 
concessions gave Germany the right to extend 
the line north-east to Kaiseriyeh, Sivas, Diar- 
bekir, and Baghdad, also south-east to Eski- 
Shehr and Konia. On account of representations 
made by Russia, the former route was given up, 
though after the outbreak of war a certain portion 
of it was constructed, chiefly with the aid of 
British prisoners who were taken by the Turks at 
Kut 1 Amara. The line to the south, however, 
was pushed forward, and 269 miles were completed 
by 1896. 

Some very interesting postcards were sent to 
me by the brother of a British officer who was 
one of the prisoners working on the lineat Angora. 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 55 

They contained a few important messages which 
revealed some of the ingenuity displayed in 
eluding the Turkish censor. One of them ran 
thus : 

" We have arrived here safely, and perhaps we 
shall go on to Constantinople, but write to me 
upon the railway. If possible, send me some 
books like Matt. x. 27. My love to all." 

There was as much information on the front as 
on the back, for we noticed that the card was 
wrongly addressed, though it reached its destina- 
tion safely, as the brother was a well-known man. 
Instead of Haddon House there was " Haddon 
Lamv," and instead of 31 Brunswick Road there 
was 4-9 Brunswick Road. Now the card came 
from Angora and contained a strange reference 
to the railway ; Matt. x. 27 says, " What I tell 
you in the darkness, that speak ye in the light " ; 
and Lamentations v. 4-9, disguised in the address, 
says, " We have drunken our water for money ; 
our wood is sold unto us ; our pursuers are upon 
our necks ; we are weary, and have no rest. We 
get our bread with the peril of our lives." In this 
way the Foreign Office was informed of the fact 
that the railway was apparently being extended 
from Angora, and that British prisoners of war 
were being compelled to construct it under very 
trying conditions. The second postcard ran as 
follows : 



56 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

" (Name) 

217 Haddon Hym, 

3 Brunswick Verse, 

(Town), Angleterre. 

14 All well. Thanks for taking so much trouble 
about books. No signs of them yet, but less urgent 
now, though useful for others less favourably 
placed. Hope Bella is doing as well as Bruno. 
What is her latest address ? " 

In this postcard the writer thanks his brother 
for referring to the Foreign Office, and indicates 
his removal from Angora, though others were still 
working on the line. " Bella " refers to the war in 
general, and " Bruno " refers to the Russian bear, 
who was then approaching Erzeroom. The third 
verse of the hymn suggested by the address inquires 
as to the probable termination of the war. This 
young officer, who kept up an ingenious corre- 
spondence, was one of the party that made the 
remarkable dash of 450 miles to freedom. 

Angora is famous for its breed of sheep and 
goats that produce a peculiarly valuable wool. 
Some of these goats were introduced into South 
Africa some years ago, and a better quality of 
Angora wool has been obtained from the Cape 
than that which came from Asia Minor. 

Eski-Shehr is situated about 2000 feet above 
sea-level, and after the advent of the railway it 
became a flourishing town and the chief depot 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 57 

for the German Anatolian lines. Large quantities 
of wheat and fullers' earth were annually exported 
from this district, and it is especially famous for 
its excellent meerschaum mines. The Turks derived 
a revenue of 8000 a year from the royalties and 
taxes on the mines, which, according to an item in 
the railway concessions, were now to be better 
managed and exploited by the Germans. 

From Eski-Shehr the line proceeds for 100 miles 
to Afiun-Kara-Hissar, where it connects with 
another line from Smyrna, which also originally 
belonged to a British company, and passed under 
French control in 1893. The Turks made use of 
this Smyrna railway and the branch line from 
Magnesia to Panderma for the purpose of bringing 
reinforcements to the Dardanelles at a time when 
our submarines worried the shipping in the Sea 
of Marmora. 

The next important stopping-place on the main 
line, 169 miles south of Afiun, is Konia, a city of 
about 30,000 inhabitants, where there are many 
interesting remains of the Biblical Iconium, in what 
was once the Roman province of Lycaonia. The 
Turks took a special pride in Konia, with its highly 
respectable industry in gloves and stockings. 
They said it was the first place visited by Noah 
when he came out of the ark, for its altitude is 
3320 feet ; and they did not hesitate to tell you 
that he came there to purchase a new pair of 
gloves and some stockings. The headquarters of 
the Dancing Dervishes, with the gorgeous tomb 



58 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

of their founder, are at Konia. The religious 
chief of this sect, known as the Chelebi Effendi, 
is the man who girds every new Sultan with the 
sword of Osman on his accession to the Sultanate. 
Not many years ago an over-zealous Turkish 
official confiscated a case of New Testaments and 
imprisoned the Armenian colporteurs because he 
scented a revolutionary plot in the highly sus- 
picious Epistle to the Galatians. The unfortunate 
Armenians were told they would be detained in 
prison until they divulged the whereabouts of the 
revolutionary writer of the Epistle, named Paul. 

The original Anatolian Railway terminates at 
Konia, where now also the Baghdad Railway 
proper begins. Though technically distinct, they, 
practically became one enterprise, in which the 
Deutsche Bank invested 16,000,000 sterling. 

After leaving Konia, the railway runs through 
a large arid plain for 25 miles to Chumra 
station, where the Germans successfully began to 
irrigate over 130,000 acres of the Konia plain by 
the water brought from the lakes of the district. 
Some of the extensive wheat-fields supplied even 
Berlin with corn during the progress of the war. 
The line, after running through a deserted plain 
that ought to become populous and fertile under 
a decent government, reaches the most difficult 
portion of all, and runs through the Taurus Moun- 
tains near the famous Cilician Gates to Adana. 

The two tunnel sections through the Taurus 
and the Amanus Mountains are extremely interest- 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 59 

ing, and exhibit remarkable engineering skill. 
The preliminary survey of this portion of the line 
presented special difficulties on account of the 
precipitous nature of the mountains. A special 
theodolite was invented for photographing the 
mountain passes, and the tunnels were planned 
from maps made from photographs. There are 
four tunnels through the Taurus and fourteen 
through the Amanus Mountains, the former with 
a total length of n miles and the latter with 
a total length of about 5 miles. The Baghche 
tunnel through the Amanus range is 5300 yards, 
the longest tunnel in Turkey. It rises 245 feet 
from the level of the western entrance, and descends 
only 45 feet to its eastern exit. It was very badly 
ventilated, and when the engines were using 
briquettes for fuel the passengers endured for 
nearly half an hour one of the worst imaginable 
discomforts of railway travelling. These tunnels 
were only completed a few weeks before the signing 
of the Armistice, and, though not properly lined 
with masonry, they are cut through such hard rock 
that they appeared to be perfectly safe. Numbers 
of workmen were engaged upon the tunnels under 
the direction of our Royal Engineers when I passed 
through in the summer of 191 9. 

Bozanti is one of the highest points in the 
Taurus range, where the mountain scenery is magni- 
ficent. All the lower hills are covered with thick 
forests, water power is plentiful, and many valuable 
mines are said to exist in the vicinity. There is 



60 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

enough wood and coal in the Taurus to supply the 
needs of Egypt and the Levant. The plains of 
Cilicia could easily be irrigated, and much greater 
quantities of cotton could be grown in the Adana 
plains, where some ill-equipped factories have 
already done remarkably well. 

Thousands of British prisoners of war laboured 
to complete this vitally important section of the 
Baghdad Railway, and the well-filled cemeteries 
tell their tale of the numbers who perished under 
the lash of their Turkish taskmasters. At Bele- 
madik, near Bozanti, I was told of a Turkish officer 
who had a cinema erected, compelled all the railway 
employees as well as the prisoners to witness the 
frequent display of German propaganda films, and 
deducted the price of the tickets from their allow- 
ances or pay. At the conclusion of the war he 
retired with his fortune to Constantinople, where 
he posed as a friend and brother to the Allied 
prisoners of war. 

There are not many places in Europe that com- 
bine so great a variety of natural beauty with a 
wealth of mineral and agricultural resources as the 
country through which the railway passes from 
Konia to Aleppo. The enormous quantities of Ger- 
man war material captured by the British all along 
the line from the Baghche tunnel to Bozanti, the 
large Turkish buildings at Islahiyeh, the quantities 
of military encampments and the miles upon miles of 
Decauville lines running hither and thither amongst 
the mountains, indicated the immense importance 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 61 

to the Central Powers of these strategic strongholds 
during the progress of the great World War. With 
the aid of the Baghdad Railway and its tributaries 
through Palestine, the largest army in the world 
could here be safely sheltered and equipped for a 
speedy descent upon Egypt or the plains of Meso- 
potamia. If only Germany had managed to escape 
from the toils that held her armies in the West, 
Cilicia might have become her principal base of 
operations for expansion in the East. 

There is a useful little railway from Adana to 
Mersine, and three branches, completed or pro- 
jected, between Adana and Aleppo one from 
Toprak-Kalah to Alexandretta, another to Marash, 
and a third to Aintab. The main line enters 
Aleppo and connects with the French lines through 
Syria, but the junction for the Baghdad line 
is at Muslimiyeh ; thence it proceeds to Jerablus, 
where the Euphrates is spanned by a magnifi- 
cent bridge, and so on to Ras 1 Ain, Nisibin, and 
Mosul. Many fine bridges and costly viaducts 
have been constructed in different parts of the line, 
and the piers of some of them exceed ioo feet in 
height. 

A northern extension of the railway has been 
surveyed from a point near Jerablus to Birijik, 
Urfa, Diarbekir, and Erzeroom, where it will some 
day be connected with the existing lines that run 
through Tiflis in the Caucasus. Another branch 
has been planned to run from Ras 1 Ain to Mardin, 
Diarbekir, and thence on to Sivas and Angora. 



62 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Besides the commercial advantages of the northern 
connections, they would be immensely serviceable 
in securing a peaceful settlement of the Armenian 
vilayets. 

In order to speed up the construction of this 
strategic railway and establish through communica- 
tion between Berlin and Baghdad, the Germans 
brought large quantities of railway material to 
Basra and completed a line of 70 miles from 
Baghdad to Samarra before the outbreak of war. 
Though the most important part of Baghdad lies on 
the eastern bank of the Tigris, the Germans built 
their railway station and other large buildings on 
its western outskirts. The first sod was cut at 
Baghdad with becoming pomp and ceremony, in the 
presence of every available German and Turkish 
official and a large assembly of Arabs. A silver 
trowel with an ebony handle was produced, but, 
unfortunately for the Germans, the handle broke, 
and thereby the Arabs discerned an evil omen, while 
the Europeans present observed that the handle 
was evidently made of deal cleverly " ebonised " 
by the makers in Germany. 

The completion of the Mesopotamian section of 
the Baghdad Railway rests with the British, who 
have considerably modified the original plans. The 
Germans intended to bring the railway down the 
right bank of the Tigris from Mosul to Samarra, 
but it seems probable that the main line will now 
proceed from Mosul to Baghdad through the more 
populous districts to the east of the Tigris. 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 63 

Over a thousand miles of railway were con- 
structed by the British Army in Mesopotamia 
between the occupation of Basra and the conclu- 
sion of peace with Turkey. Some of it has been 
taken up, and some which was laid down for purely 
military purposes will be altered and relaid with a 
different gauge. At the end of 19 19 there were 
945 miles of railway being constantly used in 
Mesopotamia. 

A beginning was made with a line from Basra to 
Nasiriyeh, on the Euphrates. Another line ran 
from Kurna to Amara, and a metre-gauge line was 
completed by August 1917 from Kut to Baghdad. 
While the journey of 108 miles by rail was accom- 
plished in twelve hours, the river journey of 200 
miles between Baghdad and Kut could not be done 
in less than two days. 

Another metre-gauge line was sent out eastward 
to Bakuba, and thence to Kuretu, near Kasr-i- 
Shirin, on the Persian frontier. A standard-gauge 
line of 48 miles was made to Felujah and Dibban, 
on the Euphrates, while another standard-gauge 
line was completed in May 191 8 to Hillah 
and Babylon. This was extended southward to 
join up with the line from Basra to Nasiriyeh. 
The first through train left Basra at midnight, 
13th January 1920, and arrived at Baghdad South 
Station on the afternoon of 15th January. The 
German line from Baghdad to Samarra has also 
been extended northwards beyond Tikrit on the 
way to Mosul, and direct railway connection is 



64 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

being made between Kiit and Basra. Practically 
the whole of the material used for this network of 
lines in Mesopotamia, and almost all the personnel 
engaged in its construction, came from India. 

In addition to the railways, the British military 
engineers constructed hundreds of miles of motor 
roads to all the important places that could not be 
reached by a railway line. From the railhead at 
Kuretu, on the Persian frontier, there is a particu- 
larly good motor road, constructed by the Royal 
Engineers, which runs over the Pai-Tak Pass to 
Kermanshah and Hamadan. There is no doubt 
that the railway line from Baghdad will soon be 
extended to Hamadan and the Persian capital, 
whence it will proceed towards Seistan, and be 
joined to the new line which has recently been 
constructed to Seistan from the Indian frontier. 

There is only one tram-line in Mesopotamia, that 
runs for three miles from Baghdad, on the west of the 
Tigris, to the sacred city of Kasmain. It is a relic 
of the past, assigned by reliable authorities to the 
Ottoman period, though it might be easily mistaken 
for a prehistoric antiquity. The primitive chariot 
with its shapeless steeds is doomed to disappear, 
though it has been a boon to multitudes of weary 
pilgrims who had to traverse this sultry stage of an 
earthly pilgrimage with their goats, hens, and other 
live stock ad infinitum. There will always be plenty 
of passengers for the electric cars or motor omni- 
buses that may henceforth be run as adjuncts to 
the Mesopotamian railroads. 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 65 

Two interesting official statements recently issued 
at Baghdad illustrate the rapidity with which 
advantage is taken by merchants and pilgrims of 
the newly constructed roads and railways. 

The line to Hillah was completed in May 1918, 
and in six months over 60,000 tons of wheat and 
barley were brought from Babylon to Baghdad, 
and in the same time the pilgrim traffic to the 
Kerbela shrines doubled all previous Turkish 
records. 

The second statement referred to the resumption 
of traffic through Kurdistan, the most turbulent 
part of the Turkish Empire. Brigandage had be- 
come so rife around Suleimaniyeh that for many 
years before the war the roads were impassable. 
Many critics too hastily declared that the Kurds 
were an insoluble problem to the British Army ; 
but, far more speedily than the greatest optimists 
could have anticipated, a motor road was made, 
brigandage was suppressed, a revolt was quelled, 
and pilgrims from Northern Persia began to pass 
safely through Southern Kurdistan. 

The utility and value of the Baghdad Railway 
were considerably enhanced by the completion, in 
quite recent years, of a number of lines through 
Palestine and Syria. In the summer of 191 9 I was 
able to travel all the way by train from Cairo to 
Constantinople, visiting many important places on 
the branch lines. The numerous streets of well- 
built houses around the two great railway stations 
at Aleppo present a very different aspect from the 

5 



66 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

cornfields I saw in 1906, when I was privileged to 
enter the city by the first construction train. 
Whilst on a journey that summer from Beyrout 
to Aintab I made the acquaintance at Hama of the 
chief engineer, who kindly permitted me to travel 
on the first train that passed through to Aleppo. 
Throngs of people were awaiting its arrival at 6 a.m., 
yelling and dancing about all over the lines, so that 
the engine-driver was obliged to let off steam from 
every valve, in order to clear the track as the train 
crawled into the unfinished station. 

The line from Aleppo to Rayak is 206 miles in 
length, and belongs to a French company. It runs 
through fairly level, fertile country by the prosperous 
Arab towns of Hama, where there is a large suspen- 
sion bridge over the Orontes, Hums, the ancient 
Emesa, Baalbec, famous for its gigantic ruined 
temples, to Rayak, whence an extension has been 
surveyed due south to a point on the Palestine 
Railway north of Ludd. 

There was another French line from Hums to 
Tripoli, a distance of 65 miles, which was broken 
up by the Turks during the war. It may some day 
be rebuilt and extended through the fascinating 
ruins of Palmyra to Anah, on the Euphrates. 

Another French company owns the Lebanon 
Railway, which runs from Beyrout to Damascus 
through the junction at Rayak ; and the same com- 
pany built the dismantled line which ran from 
Damascus to Mezerib. 

The Lebanon Railway, with its rack-and-pinion 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 67 

system, is a narrow-gauge line of many steep 
gradients, so that even the specially powerful engines 
are only able to draw a very small train at a slow 
pace to a height of 5000 feet at Ain Sofar. A very 
limited service only is possible on a line that entails 
considerable expense in its working, and for through 
traffic to Damascus the Haifa Railway may become 
its formidable rival. It will always be a popular 
railway, however, on account of the magnificent 
mountain scenery through which it passes, and 
the numbers of salubrious hill stations, to which 
the Syrians and Egyptians resort in the summer 
months. 

The Hedjaz Railway is an important line built 
for the Turks by German engineers, from Damascus 
to Medina. It will probably be extended to Mecca, 
where it will be connected with a line to Jedda. 
Another branch is projected from Yambo, on the 
Red Sea, to Medina. Maan is the nearest station 
to the wonderful rock-hewn city of Petra; and a 
branch line is projected from Amman to Jericho, 
in the Jordan valley, where it will meet the carriage 
road to Jerusalem. 

An interesting line which was torn up during the 
war ran from Deraa to Bosra-Eski-Sham, where 
preparations had been made for its extension to 
Salkhad. It is not impossible that this line may 
eventually be further extended through a piece of 
barren country, which is by no means a sandy 
desert, to the city of Baghdad, a distance of 400 
miles only from the Mediterranean port of Haifa. 



68 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

The line from Deraa to Haifa, under Mount 
Carmel, was partly built by a British company that 
surrendered its concessions to the Turks in 1902. 
A narrow-gauge line runs from Haifa to Acre, but 
the main line of the Palestine Railway, constructed 
during the Armistice, winds around the spur of 
Mount Carmel and proceeds in a straight line to 
Ludd. 

The well-known metre line from Jaffa to Jeru- 
salem was built and owned by a French company. 
The section from Ludd to Jaffa was destroyed by 
the Turks, but the more interesting portion from 
Ludd to Jerusalem remained intact, and is now in 
constant use. 

The most important part of the new Palestine 
Railway was immensely useful to the military ex- 
pedition, and promises to remain for all time one of 
the most valuable assets for the inhabitants of the 
Holy Land. It runs from Ludd to Gaza, and thence 
across the Sinaitic desert to Kantara, where it is 
at present connected with the Egyptian railways 
by a swing bridge across the Suez Canal, though 
in years to come its connection with Egypt will 
probably be made by means of a tunnel already 
designed to pass under the Canal. 

Most of the Turko-German railways in Palestine 
were broken up, and remnants of the numerous 
Decauville lines could be traced in different parts of 
the country. Many new bridges and culverts are 
still being built, the more permanent lines are being 
strengthened, and new tracks are being constructed 




R 
c3 

5 
p. 

o 

<u 

s 

o 



U 



PL, 



THE BAGHDAD RAILWAY 69 

in different parts of Palestine, Syria, and Meso- 
potamia. 

The German concessions for the Baghdad Railway 
made provision for one train every day in each 
direction between Haidar Pasha and Aleppo, also 
for a weekly express train to Aleppo and a fort- 
nightly express train both ways between Con- 
stantinople and the Persian Gulf. The express 
trains were to average 28 miles an hour for the first 
five years, after which the speed must be increased 
to 37 miles an hour. At this comparatively slow 
pace, the journey from Constantinople to Baghdad 
would take about two and a half days ; from London 
to Baghdad or Egypt, about five and a half days ; 
and from London to India, seven or eight days. 

It is easy to imagine that this enormous network 
of new railways running through a central portion 
of the Eastern Hemisphere will revolutionise the 
conditions of Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia, 
and affect the future developments of Africa and 
the East. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE PERSIAN GULF 

It may soon be possible to travel from London to 
Baghdad in about five days, and by aerial naviga- 
tion in less than half that time ; but the quickest, 
safest, and best route to Mesopotamia for the last 
quarter of a century has been by way of India, 
through the waters of the Persian Gulf a matter 
of five or six weeks' journey from London to 
Baghdad. 

From Bombay to Basra the voyager traverses 
the oldest sea-route in the world. In hoar antiquity 
the Babylonians and the Persians sent their ships 
from Mesopotamia to India and Ceylon. It was 
in the Persian Gulf that the art of navigation was 
acquired by the Phoenicians, who, after their migra- 
tion to Syria, piloted their vessels from Tyre and 
Sidon to the ports of the British Isles. Nearly 
two thousand years before the Portuguese explored 
the waters of the Gulf, Alexander the Great sent 
his admiral, Nearchus, from the mouth of the 
Indus to the estuary of the Euphrates ; and for 
four thousand years the traffic through these 

70 



THE PERSIAN GULF 71 

phosphorescent waters enriched the leading empires 
of the East and played an important part in the 
history of the continent of Asia. 

On my many voyages to and from Basra I learned 
to understand and appreciate something of the 
valuable services rendered to humanity by the 
achievements of the British Navy in securing the 
'? freedom of the seas." In 1894 1 took an interest- 
ing photograph in the Red Sea of a pretty little 
gunboat under full sail with its studding sails set, 
for it was on its way to the waters of the Far East 
to do duty of a similar kind to that which was done 
by the little gunboats of the Royal Indian Marine 
constantly engaged in policing the waters of the 
Persian Gulf. When on that voyage I reached 
Muscat, I was taken by the American missionary 
to see a group of eighteen negro lads who had 
recently been rescued from a slave dhow by a 
British gunboat, and were now being tenderly 
cared for at their mission school. 

The inhuman traffic in slaves was one of the things 
encouraged by the Turks, especially when, for a 
short time, they got a footing at two small ports 
on the Arabian coast, and, by the energies of 
the great Midhat Pasha, established the feeble 
Kaimakamate of El-Hasa. They permitted slave 
dhows to fly the Ottoman flag for the express 
purpose of facilitating the importation of slaves 
into the markets of Basra and Baghdad, since the 
ownership of slaves was always lawful through- 
out the Turkish dominions. One of the thankless 



72 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

tasks assigned to the Royal Indian Marine was to 
suppress this traffic in slaves, and the difficulties 
encountered were greatly increased when some of 
the dhows managed to secure from Jibuti the pro- 
tection of the French flag. 

Muscat is one of the hottest places on earth, 
and even the Sultan thought so in February 1895, 
when the Bedouin looted the town, destroyed his 
palace, and kept him a prisoner for a few days in 
one of the Portuguese forts till reinforcements 
arrived to rescue him. A similar revolt took place 
in January 191 5, but it was speedily quelled with 
the aid of a small British force sent from India at 
a time when the turbulent tribesmen supposed we 
were too preoccupied to interfere with their piratical 
outbreaks. 

A Persian writer, in attempting to describe the 
heat of Muscat, declares " that it melted the sword 
in its scabbard, and the gems that adorned the 
handle of his dagger were reduced to coal ; that in 
the plain the chase was a perfectly simple matter, 
for the desert was filled with roasted gazelles." 
The Infernal Regions are said to be not far from 
Muscat, but I never stopped there long enough to 
verify the statement. 

The British Residency, situated in the only 
breezy corner of a town that is furiously hot all 
the year round, is the finest house in Muscat and 
commands a beautiful view of the broad ocean 
through the great rocks to the right, as well as a 
perfect view to the left of the picturesque town and 



THE PERSIAN GULF 73 

harbour. The European cemetery is strangely 
situated in a sheltered nook with its own sandy 
beach between precipitous rocks, quite near the 
town, but unapproachable by land, so that every 
funeral must proceed by boats for more than an 
hour's row to this quiet resting-place on the Arabian 
shore. Here, amongst other heroes of the British 
race, lie the mortal remains of Bishop French, the 
famous seven-tongued Bishop of Lahore, who spent 
the last years of his saintly life as an honorary 
missionary to the Arabs. 

Quite close to Muscat and connected with it by 
a narrow mountain path is the busy little seaport 
of Mattra, whose importance consists in its being 
the terminus of the caravan routes from the 
interior. These rocky harbours are remarkable 
for the enormous quantities of fish they contain, 
for fishes are so plentiful along the coast of Oman 
and so easily caught that they are used as fodder for 
cows and asses and utilised as manure for the fields. 

The ruined Portuguese forts that crown the rugged 
heights of Hormuz and Muscat recall the days of 
good Queen Bess, when four enterprising English- 
men, after a voyage which lasted for months, dared 
to enter the Persian Gulf and, after visiting every 
port, were arrested for their impudence by the 
Portuguese and carried off as prisoners to Goa, in 
India. Their experiences however, within and 
without their prison walls, led eventually to the 
formation of the famous East India Company and 
to the speedy opening up of the Persian Gulf to 



74 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

British traders. The Portuguese so persistently 
barred the way and obstructed our commercial 
enterprises that the British Navy in due course 
appeared before the forts of Hormuz to defend the 
rights of peaceful merchantmen. They were obliged 
to wrest the island from the Portuguese when they 
handed back to the care of the Persians the now 
opened gates of the Persian Gulf. Our merchants 
of the Levant Company in Aleppo had already 
begun to trade with Mesopotamia, and in 1618 the 
East India Company succeeded in establishing 
commercial relations with the port of Jask, on the 
Mekran coast, opposite Muscat, while another 
trading depot was soon afterwards opened at 
Bunder Abbas. 

The voyager from India along the coast of Belu- 
chistan sometimes calls at small, uninteresting 
places like Gwadir and Charbar, but he is agreeably 
surprised to discover at Jask a small colony of 
English people, who occupy a group of excellent 
buildings belonging to the Eastern Telegraph Com- 
pany ; for in this desolate and dreary corner of the 
Mekran coast there is an outpost of civilisation 
and an important British telegraph station. 

Bunder Abbas, twice visited by Marco Polo, 
is an unattractive port, but one of peculiar 
interest from its connection with the changes and 
developments now taking place in the Near East. 
It is situated on the Persian coast at the very 
entrance to the Gulf, for the Gulf of Oman forms 
a kind of vestibule to the Persian Gulf proper, and 



THE PERSIAN GULF 75 

Bunder Abbas, with the island of Hormuz, guards 
the main entrance to this great inland sea. 

This is the port for Kerman, Yezd, and Eastern 
Persia, and the roads traverse a number of mountain 
ranges before reaching the central plateau. It 
was for centuries the flourishing terminus of im- 
portant overland trade routes from Europe, whence 
also the goods were passed on by sea to India. 

In 1899 Russia contemplated extending her rail- 
way systems through Persia to Bunder Abbas, and 
it looked at one time as though serious friction 
would arise between England and Russia ; but 
fortunately satisfactory negotiations resulted in an 
amicable settlement, and Russia abandoned her 
plan of securing a railway terminus in the Persian 
Gulf. About the same time we made a suggestion 
to Russia with regard to the organisation, under 
British officers, of a Persian gendarmerie for the 
robber - infested provinces of Southern Persia. 
Russia, however, considered that Great Britain 
would in this way obtain too much influence in the 
Shah's dominions, so we yielded to her representa- 
tions and consented to the organisation of a Persian 
police force under Swedish officers. Immediately 
after the outbreak of war, the majority of these 
Swedish officers turned traitors, repudiated Persia's 
neutrality, and joined forces with the revolutionary 
bands that were organised under the German Prince 
Reuss. Sir Percy Sykes, our British Consul, to- 
gether with the British colony and the Russian 
Consul, were driven out of Kerman and took refuge 



76 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

at Bunder Abbas. A new arrangement was now 
speedily concluded with Russia, and Sir Percy Sykes 
began, at the fine British Consulate in Bunder Abbas, 
to organise an efficient military gendarmerie under 
British officers. It numbers something like 15,000 
men, and Southern Persia is to-day more peaceful 
and secure than it has been for a century and more. 
Over against Hormuz there is the terrible Pirate 
Coast, where for centuries the Arab pirates were 
able to shelter in their well-protected lagoons, and 
whence they sallied forth to attack peaceful traders. 
The suppression of piracy was the most difficult 
of all the arduous enterprises undertaken by the 
British Navy in its determination to establish order 
and security throughout the Persian Gulf. A 
determined attack was made upon the pirates' 
stronghold in 1806, when one of their fleets was 
captured and they were compelled to sign certain 
treaties of peace. They completely failed, however, 
to abide by the terms of their contract, and con- 
tinued to attack British merchant ships that traded 
in the Gulf, and on one occasion they actually 
secured a small British warship. The extent to 
which they were able to carry on their nefarious 
operations can be estimated if we remember that in 
18 18 the pirates commenced to ravage the west 
coast of India, and in the following year a fleet of 
sixty-four pirate vessels, manned by 7000 armed 
men, appeared off the coast of Kathiawar. It 
became necessary to organise a second large military 
expedition against the pirates, and by the combined 



THE PERSIAN GULF 77 

efforts of our Army and Navy we were able to subdue 
them effectively in 1820. Constant watch, how- 
ever, has been necessary ever since that time to 
prevent some evil-minded chief from resuming the 
much-loved occupation of piracy. And here again, 
when the Turks occupied a small portion of the 
Arabian coast, this was one of the things which 
they persistently encouraged. 

Gun-running was another favourite occupation 
which was with difficulty suppressed by the gun- 
boats of the Royal Indian Marine that patrol the 
Persian Gulf waters. This illicit traffic in modern 
firearms supplied the turbulent tribes of the interior 
with the weapons they needed for robberies and 
raids, and its suppression produced a comparative 
cessation of tribal warfare in many inland pro- 
vinces far removed from the northern shores of the 
Gulf, to the very frontier of India. 

Ling ah. The first and the prettiest port in the 
Persian Gulf on the north side, beyond Kishim, is 
another interesting Eastern town which has played 
its part in some of the most stirring events that 
precipitated the great World War. Lingah is a 
port of call for the British India steamers, and the 
Company's well-ventilated offices are a prominent 
feature of the busy foreshore, where at times an 
exceptionally large number of native boats are 
moored, mostly connected with the pearl fisheries 
not far away. 

Some of the shops in the bazaars are owned by 
Indian Banians, who represent the most flourishing 



78 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

class of traders at all the ports in the Persian Gulf. 
It is probably not realised in the British Isles how 
enterprising are some of our British Indian subjects, 
and how they have extended their commercial 
operations, under the security of the British Raj, 
far away from the shores of the Indian peninsula 
to some of the most remote corners of Asia and 
Africa. 

In 1896 a German trading company began 
business, on what appeared to be a harmless scale, 
at Lingah, where the German agent, Wonckhaus, 
commenced to trade in oyster shells and mother-of- 
pearl ; for the small island of Abu Musa, over against 
Lingah, marks the beginning of the great pearl 
bank which reaches to the islands of Bahrain. In 
addition to his interest in oyster shells, Wonckhaus 
became secretly connected with a concession to work 
the red oxide deposits that exist on Abu Musa. The 
island belongs to the Sheikh of Shargah, on the 
Arabian coast, who gave a concession to three 
Arabs to introduce machinery and work the red 
oxide deposits. One of these Arabs lived at 
Shargah, and the others were in business at Lingah. 
Nothing much was done, however, until ten years 
afterwards, when the Sheikh of Shargah learned one 
day to his intense surprise that the Germans practi- 
cally claimed possession of his island. It trans- 
pired that the two Arabs in Lingah had acted on 
behalf of Wonckhaus, who had purchased their rights 
for the Hamburg-American Steamship Company 
and now openly claimed German protection for his 



THE PERSIAN GULF 79 

interests on the island. The Sheikh of Shargah 
refused to recognise the Germans' secret transactions 
and sought the intervention of Great Britain, in 
accordance with a treaty which had long existed 
between our authorities and the Sheikh ; but the 
German agents ignored the rights of the Arab 
chief, so at length, in October 1907, a British gun- 
boat towed a number of the Sheikh's sailing-ships 
to Abu Musa with 300 of his armed men on board. 
They removed the native workmen from the oxide 
deposits and transferred them to Lingah, but they 
foolishly fired, so the Germans declared, on a boat 
that was flying the German flag. The German 
press became furious, and every effort was made to 
magnify the incident into one of supreme inter- 
national importance. Germany was unable to 
press the matter, for it was clear that the Sheikh of 
Shargah had a perfect right to object to the transfer 
to the Germans of the concession he had made to 
three of his own people, and moreover the chief's 
long-standing agreement with Great Britain ex- 
pressly forbade the granting of such a concession 
to any European merchant, even though he were a 
British subject. Here, at least, we have a signifi- 
cant illustration of Germany's flagrant disregard for 
treaties, and one of her early attempts to tear up 
an inconvenient " scrap of paper " that did not 
meet with her approval. 

Bahrain. The great pearl bank which extends 
from near the Pirate Coast to Bahrain is the most 
wonderful feature of the Persian Gulf, and nearly 



80 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

a million pounds worth of genuine as well as 
fabricated pearls are exported annually from the 
headquarters of the pearl trade at the so-called 
M Pearl Islands " of Bahrain. The largest of these 
islands is about 27 miles long by 10 broad, on the 
north side of which lies the largest town, Menamah, 
with about 10,000 inhabitants. This is the com- 
mercial centre for all the Bahrain Islands, containing 
the Post Office and the Custom House. Not far from 
Menamah are the ruins of an old town containing 
a mosque with two minarets in fair preservation and 
marked with inscriptions in the old Cufic character. 
The unexplored tumuli of the old Phoenician city 
of Gerrha are situated on the mainland of Arabia, 
and there are large numbers of similar mounds on 
the islands. 

The islands are also remarkable for the number of 
underground rivers which they contain, and the 
parent source of the numerous lukewarm fresh- 
water springs must evidently be far away on the 
mainland of Arabia. One of the largest springs 
issues from the midst of a reservoir 30 yards wide 
and about 30 feet deep,. similar to the great spring 
at Ras-Baalbec in Syria. The abundant stream of 
fresh water which flows from this spring averages 
6 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Near Muharrek some 
of the springs bubble up under the sea not far from 
the shore, from which the natives procure water by 
using a long bamboo weighted at one end, so that when 
it reaches the bubbling spring the fresh water gushes 
out from the end of the bamboo just above sea-level. 



THE PERSIAN GULF Si 

Most of the export pearl trade is controlled by 
Indian Banians from Karachi, but the pearl fishers 
are Arabs, and for centuries they have enjoyed the 
exclusive right to work on the pearl bank. Their 
" trade union " regulations have always been recog- 
nised by the British authorities so much so that 
British merchants and Indian Banians have never 
been allowed to seek for concessions that would 
in any way compete or interfere with the lawful 
privileges of these Arab fishermen. The bank is 
apportioned in sections to the different Sheikhs 
and towns of the Gulf, and during the pearl season, 
from June to October, a British gunboat is on guard 
keeping order amongst the workers. 

The German capitalists of the great Berlin Bank 
and the Hamburg-American Steamship Company 
conceived a plan that would effectively break up 
this most ancient trade guild of the Arab pearl 
divers, so the first step was taken when in 1901 
the German firm of Wonckhaus removed its head- 
quarters from Lingah to Bahrain. The following 
year the German intriguers at Constantinople 
persuaded the Sultan to revive an imaginary claim 
to sovereignty over the great pearl bank, and 
at the same time to grant a concession to the Ger- 
mans to work the fisheries by scientific methods. 
Their scheme, they thought, would bring untold 
wealth to the capitalists, a substantial share of 
the proceeds would be given to the Sultan, and, of 
course, a German fleet would be needed in the 
Persian Gulf to take over the duties of the British 

6 



82 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

gunboat and to substitute German discipline for 
the peaceful trade unionism so sedulously fostered 
by the British amongst the horde of superannuated 
pirates, who would still be needed as slaves for the 
fisheries and could be exploited for the promotion 
of German Kultur. Great Britain, however, in- 
formed the Sultan that his supposed sovereignty 
over the Persian Gulf fisheries was a vain delusion, 
and that a German monopoly could not therefore 
be recognised. Germany, however, made another 
attempt to secure a footing upon the great pearl 
bank, and asked the Sultan for a lease of the 
uninhabited island of Halul. This little island, 
situated in the centre of the fisheries, is immensely 
valuable to the fishermen in stormy weather, as 
it possesses an excellent harbour, well sheltered by 
rocks, and containing a secure anchorage for thou- 
sands of sailing-ships. Again the British authorities 
informed the Sultan that it was impossible for him 
to give away what did not belong to him, and 
Germany's little scheme for the possession of a 
coaling station or a fortified Heligoland in the 
midst of the Persian Gulf once more fell through. 
In 1905 the Germans approached the Sheikh of 
Bahrain and attempted to obtain direct from him 
concessions similar to those which had been sought 
from the Sultan of Turkey ; but the Sheikh reminded 
the Germans of his treaties and agreements with 
Great Britain, and referred them for an answer to 
the British authorities. Once again Germany 
failed to secure by guile the possessions she had 



THE PERSIAN GULF 83 

hoped to seize ten years previously by force of arms. 
It was in 1895 that Germany was working out 
in Constantinople her preliminary plans for the 
invasion of the Persian Gulf, and the Turks were 
instigated to seize at once the islands of Bahrain. 
A fleet of native boats filled with armed men set 
out one day from the Turkish coast, but the 
British authorities had obtained information of the 
project, and a British gunboat broke up the fleet 
in the sight of the Turkish officials who were watch- 
ing from the shore and waiting, when the fight 
was over, to cross and take possession of the newly 
acquired islands of Bahrain. The feeble hold which 
the Turks had secured on the coast of El-Hasa was 
finally relinquished in 1913, when the forces of 
Ibn Saood drove out the last remnants of the 
Turkish garrisons. 

An additional interest attaches to Bahrain from 
the fact that the famous Force D under General 
Delamain, which so speedily captured Basra, was 
waiting at Bahrain when war was declared against 
Turkey in November 1914. The treacherous Turks 
had already admitted the Goeben and Breslau 
into Constantinople, and it was correctly surmised 
that they would attempt to destroy the British oil 
factory at Abadan, and make an attack on Koweit 
or Bahrain. On the 18th of October a force of 5000 
men was despatched from India to Bahrain under 
the escort of H.M.S. Ocean, which was subsequently 
torpedoed in the Dardanelles. A curious obstacle 
suddenly blocked the way of the transports when 



84 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

a huge waterspout compelled the whole convoy to 
alter its course, and the guns of H.M.S. Ocean 
opened fire upon an unexpected enemy, which 
subsequently, in another form of floods and rain, 
proved to be the most formidable foe to this same 
expeditionary force in Mesopotamia. 

The waters around Bahrain contain a mass of 
reefs and shoals, so that ships drawing 18 feet have 
to anchor three miles out, while H.M.S. Ocean, 
which drew 27 feet, was obliged to anchor fourteen 
miles from land. Only very small boats can get 
through the shallow waters to within fifty yards 
of the shore, and, in the absence of a jetty, it was 
customary for passengers to be carried on the backs 
of the sturdy Arabs, or landed with the aid of donkeys 
when these were procurable. 

The German agent of the Wonckhaus firm was 
arrested as soon as the officers of the convoy were 
able to effect a landing. He was taken in the act 
of signing a letter which turned out to be a correct 
report on the strength and composition of Force D, 
and furthermore stated that another 10,000 troops 
were shortly coming from India. This information 
was also correct, though it was not actually known 
to the English staff till some weeks later. The 
German agent, however, had already managed to 
despatch this information to Bushire and Basra 
immediately after the arrival of the transports. 

Bushire, or Abu-Shehir, the father of cities, is 
what Westerners would prefer to call the metropolis 
of the Persian Gulf. It is situated on the coast of 







WW A * 



THE PERSIAN GULF 85 

Persia immediately to the north of Bahrain, whence 
the main roads proceed across the mountains to 
Shiraz and Teheran. The all-important British 
Residency and Consulate-General is at this place, 
and the well-trusted British Residents, who so 
honourably maintain the high traditions of British 
administrators, are unceasingly occupied with most 
important duties of an onerous nature, in preserving 
the security and peace that have so long prevailed 
in the Persian Gulf. 

On one occasion, when visiting Bushire, I came 
across a group of Arab chiefs from the interior of 
Arabia. They informed me that they had come 
down to the Arabian coast in order to pay homage 
to the Sheikh of Koweit, for they recognised that 
Ibn Raschid, the Turkish representative, was no 
longer the most powerful man in Arabia. The 
chief of Koweit had advised them to visit the 
British Resident at Bushire, who would register 
their rights and privileges, and would take care 
that, as far as possible, justice should always be 
done to them in times of difficulty or danger. 

Large numbers of pilgrims travel by the British 
India steamers from Bushire to Basra, and thence 
to the holy cities of Mesopotamia. On one occasion 
six holy Persians from the interior approached the 
British India agent for tickets to Basra, and they 
were informed that the mail steamer would arrive at 
six o'clock the following morning. Unaccustomed 
to such clockwork movements, they rebuked the 
agent for his confidence and for omitting to use 



86 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

the customary " Inshallah," " for," said they, " the 
mail boat will only arrive if it be God's will." " Of 
course," replied the agent ; " but I warn you to be 
here by six o'clock, or else you will miss the boat." 
So on the following morning they were sitting on 
the beach at dawn, when sure enough at six o'clock 
the mail steamer arrived four miles from the shore at 
its customary anchorage. " There it is," said the 
agent ; " I told you it would be here." " Wonder- 
ful ! Wonderful ! " exclaimed the holy men. " This 
cannot be the work of God : it is the doings of the 
English." 

I have had some disagreeable experiences at 
Bushire, when navigating the four miles of zigzag 
roadstead between the mail boat and the shore, 
which passengers must cross in the native sailing- 
boats. That little journey took me more than two 
hours one rough day when we appeared to cover 
a good twelve miles as we tacked to and fro around 
the Persian Navy, before the wind would allow us 
to come alongside the steamer. The Persians can 
boast of one solitary warship, the Persepolts, which 
is generally stationed at Bushire, though sometimes, 
in favourable weather, it ventures as far as Lingah 
and Bunder Abbas. 

I once asked the chief officer of our mail boat 
how they managed to navigate these difficult waters 
with so few accidents. He showed me the charts 
produced by the Admiralty from time to time 
since the Navy began a marine survey of the Gulf 
in 1785 ; he pointed out the beacons we have 



THE PERSIAN GULF 87 

erected and the buoys with which the British 
steamship companies have marked out the road- 
steads and the great mud " Bar " ; and he reminded 
me that the smart little Patrick Stewart, which I 
had frequently seen in the Gulf, was the telegraph 
ship that made itself responsible for the care of all 
the cables. 

In September 1914 one of our Intelligence officers 
sent off from Bushire a young Afghan, who, on 
arrival at Basra, questioned the Turks about the 
possibility of a " Holy War." They informed him 
that they intended bringing an army through 
Afghanistan on its way to India, and that therefore 
he would be able to assist them in arousing the 
Afghans to respond to the demands of a Holy War. 
They permitted him, therefore, to ramble about 
the Turkish camps, and for nearly six weeks he 
watched the German agents of the great commercial 
Wonckhaus Company travelling up and down the 
Shat '1 Arab in a Turkish gunboat, instructing the 
Turks as to how they should hide their batteries 
and conceal their guns amid the date palms that 
line the banks of the Shat 1 Arab. This was at a 
time when the Turks in Constantinople were pre- 
tending to be sincere in their determination to 
maintain neutrality. The Afghan slipped out of 
the country two weeks before the outbreak of war, 
and the information which he communicated to his 
chief proved to be of real value to General Delamain 
in spotting the concealed batteries during the 
advance towards Basra. 



88 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Koweit. The last port in the Persian Gulf 
is likely to become the most important of all. 
Koweit is now a prosperous town of about 50,000 
inhabitants, where twenty years ago its population 
numbered less than 12,000. It is the cleanest place 
in the Gulf, and its wide, spacious streets present a 
striking contrast to the unsavoury slums in the 
ports on the Persian shore. It possesses more 
" bugalows " or sailing-ships than any other port 
in the Gulf ; it is famous for its excellent dockyard, 
its numerous boat-builders, and its up-to-date 
condenser, the largest of its kind in the world, which 
provides for the inhabitants 450 tons of fresh water 
daily, distilled from the deep blue sea. About 400 
boats are sent annually from this port to the pearl 
fisheries, and hundreds of cargo boats not only visit 
all the ports in the Gulf, but extend their operations 
to India, East Africa, and the ports in the Red Sea. 

These well-travelled mariners are the news- 
vendors and journalists of the East. When they 
brought back their date cargoes from Basra in 
the winter of 19 14, it is reported that they spread 
abroad their own dramatic account of British 
victories. " A British steamer fired two shots. At 
the first shot 300 Turks fell, at the second shot 400 ; 
then the governors fled, and the Turkish troops 
followed them in flight from Basra." 

Koweit is equally important to the internal affairs 
of Arabia as it is to its external relations. The main 
roads for pilgrims and caravans proceed from this 
rendezvous to Nejd, Mecca, the Jebel Shammar, 



THE PERSIAN GULF 89 

and Damascus. It is quite possible a railway will 
some day be constructed from Suez to Koweit in 
almost a straight line through Akaba and the Jauf . 

The town is improving very rapidly, the value of 
land has been steadily rising for some years past, and 
there are already some very fine buildings. The 
Sheikh's palace has been vastly improved in recent 
years, and instead of the old Turkish flag with the 
crescent and star he flies his own distinctive red 
flag with the word " Koweit " embroidered upon it 
in white letters. It is the Sheikh's custom to sit in 
a coffee-house or reception hall near one of the gates, 
where he receives visitors, dispenses justice, and 
watches the passers-by. Another nice building 
in the place is the American Mission Hospital, 
constructed of steel and reinforced concrete, with 
two comfortable residences in the same compound. 
Some of the people tried to organise an opposition 
hospital a few years ago and placed a Turkish 
doctor in charge, but the adventure came to naught, 
and the Sheikh of Koweit one day handed over 
the surgical instruments and the microscope as 
a present to the American Mission Hospital. A 
land telegraph has now established communica- 
tions between Koweit and Basra, and there is 
also a temporary wireless installation. 

There are always many large Bedouin encamp- 
ments around Koweit, belonging to different tribes. 
The Abu Suleib is a large tribe that claims a 
Christian origin. Its name is the diminutive of 
the Arabic word for a cross, and in connection with 



90 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

their rites of circumcision they make use of a small 
cross that is decorated with brightly coloured 
ribbons. Some authorities suppose they are de- 
scended from the Levantines of the Crusaders' 
armies, who remained behind when the bulk of the 
Crusaders returned to Europe. 

In February 1915 the Viceroy of India paid a 
visit to Basra, and called in at Koweit, where, on 
behalf of King George, he conferred the K. C.S.I. 
upon the famous Sheikh Mubarek. 

It is a most fortunate circumstance for the East 
that Arabia produced two wonderful men during 
the last half-century. They both had much to do 
with the trend of political events. One of them 
was the Sheikh of Koweit, a far-sighted, untutored 
Arab who ruled his provinces with a strong hand 
and shaped the policy of so many of the inland 
tribes. He was a great reformer, and the pros- 
perity of Koweit is due almost entirely to his 
foresight and enterprise. When he commenced 
to rule in Koweit, his people were content to drink 
the brackish water that could be found anywhere 
by digging a few feet in the sands. Mubarek 
organised a fleet of boats which sailed regularly 
backwards and forwards to the Shat 1 Arab for the 
purpose of bringing fresh water, a distance of about 
70 miles. He then introduced a steam tank-ship, 
which was found to be too expensive for the purpose ; 
and at last he caused to be installed the magnificent 
condenser, which appears to be working remarkably 
well. 



THE PERSIAN GULF 91 

On the advice of Great Britain, he devoted himself 
to the attainment of one great object, namely, the 
uniting together in bonds of friendship all the 
prominent chiefs of the Arabian peninsula ; and in 
this endeavour he was seconded by the other re- 
markable man, the chief of Nejd, who has also been 
knighted and is now known as Sheikh Sir Abd-el- 
Aziz Ibn Saood. Sheikh Mubarek died in Novem- 
ber 1 91 5, and was succeeded by his son, Sheikh Jabr, 
who wisely determined to carry on the policy of 
his distinguished father. Ibn Saood is undoubtedly 
one of the most influential -and important men in 
Arabia, and, in spite of the fanaticism of his Wahabi 
followers, he has exerted his authority in support 
of every attempt made to bring union and concord 
amongst the Arab tribes, and to open up the 
Arabian peninsula to trade and the influences of 
modern civilisation. 

This remarkable town of Koweit is chiefly famous, 
however, for its magnificent harbour, which contains 
about 25 square miles of deep water and is well 
protected at its entrance by a small island. It was 
this wonderful harbour that attracted the cupidity 
of the German intriguers. When the Germans 
completed the survey of the Baghdad Railway, 
they decided that their important trunk line must 
terminate at Koweit, and four very deliberate 
attempts were made to get possession of the Sheikh's 
magnificent harbour. 

In the year 1900 the German Railway Commission, 
headed by the Consul-General from Constantinople, 



92 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

appeared at Koweit with an offer to purchase or 
lease an area of 25 square miles ; but the Sheikh 
informed the Germans that they were a little too 
late, for it was in 1899 that our agreements with 
Mubarek were strengthened in such a way that he 
was not permitted to give any of his territory to the 
Sultan's German friends without the sanction of 
the British authorities. A second attempt was 
made with the aid of Ibn Raschid, who, in the pay 
of the Germans and the Turks, attempted to pick a 
quarrel with the chief of Koweit and by force of 
arms deprive him of his territory. This scheme 
also came to naught through the timely assistance 
of Ibn Saood ; but a third attempt was made, when 
a Turkish army of 14,000 men was mustered at 
Nasiriyeh for the purpose of invading the Sheikh's 
territory and forcing from him all that the Germans 
and the Turks required. Great Britain, however, 
notified the Sultan that this could not be allowed, 
and that we were prepared to stand by our written 
agreements and defend with armed forces this 
independent chief of Arabia. The Turkish Navy 
was ordered surreptitiously to effect a landing at 
Koweit and to take prisoner the Sheikh Mubarek ; 
but our naval authorities obtained timely warning 
of their intention, and while the rusty Turkish 
gunboat was struggling for three days to raise the 
anchor and get up steam at Basra, a British gun- 
boat appeared upon the scene from Bombay, and 
the Turks were forbidden to land men in the harbour 
of Koweit. Still another desperate effort was made, 



THE PERSIAN GULF 93 

when the Turks pretended to champion the cause 
of the Sheikh's nephew, who claimed the chieftain- 
ship of Koweit; a flotilla of native boats filled 
with armed men was mobilised at the island of 
Bubian, and was proceeding to make a raid upon 
Koweit when it was suddenly intercepted and imme- 
diately dispersed by an ever-ready and ever- 
vigilant British gunboat. 

Thus ended the last of a series of conflicts with 
pirates and Prussians, slave-traders and Turks, 
for the maintenance of good order, just dealing, 
liberty, and peace in this the most primitive of the 
world's waterways, the birthplace of the earliest 
of ancient mariners, the cradle of navigation. 
After a century's hard work, the British Navy has 
accomplished something in the Persian Gulf, and 
the world must acknowledge that this something 
should be called " the Freedom of the Seas." 



CHAPTER V 

THE BASRA BAR 

Germany's ambitious intentions were thwarted 
to some extent by the existence of a natural barrier 
known as the Basra Bar. The enormous quantities 
of alluvial deposit brought down by the two great 
rivers of the Tigris and the Euphrates have created 
through the centuries an immense deposit of mud 
which blocks the entrance to the great river known 
as the Shat 1 Arab. It is believed that the Persian 
Gulf at one time reached as far north as Kurna, so 
that the whole of the country around Basra has, 
in the course of millenniums, been created by the 
mud brought down with the Mesopotamian floods. 
It is claimed that the land around the estuary of 
the Tigris and Euphrates has been advanced at 
the rate of 72 feet every year. The Bar to-day 
begins not far from Fao and extends for about seven 
miles out to sea. A narrow channel that runs 
through the Bar was marked with much difficulty 
by the British steamship companies, who placed 
buoys here and there for the guidance of mariners. 
It was often extremely difficult to discover this 

94 




:3r?BS 



^mf^^ t :.y 




(i) The Arch of Chosroes at Ctesiphon (p. 140). (2) A view of Baghdad 
from the Infantry Barracks, looking south. (3) A primitive irri- 
gation "Cherad" at KutTAmara (p. no). 



THE BASRA BAR 95 

channel, and on one occasion, whilst proceeding to 
Basra by the mail steamer, we missed it and were 
stuck in the mud for over thirty hours, with the 
engines at full speed the whole time. The Basra 
Bar was naturally a very great handicap to all 
shipping entering the ports of Basra, Mohammerah, 
and Abadan. Only vessels of less than 18 feet draught 
could cross the Bar, and then of course it was neces- 
sary to follow carefully the buoyed channel. 

It was this Bar which presented serious difficulties 
to the British Expedition. It caused considerable 
delay in bringing reinforcements and supplies to 
the troops in Mesopotamia. All the larger vessels 
were obliged to tranship the troops and stores 
outside the Bar into smaller boats which conveyed 
them to Basra. It was in the autumn of 1914 that 
our military operations began, and, on account of 
the intense summer heat in Mesopotamia, all our 
most important military movements subsequently 
took place in the winter ; but it is always in the 
autumn and winter months that furious storms are 
met with at the northern end of the Persian Gulf. 
The difficulties of transhipment on the high seas 
were therefore considerably increased at a time 
when so much bad weather prevailed. 

The Bar is still a formidable obstacle to the 
commercial development of Mesopotamia, as all 
incoming and outgoing vessels have to be lightened, 
a slow and dangerous business involving consider- 
able expense. It is calculated that a ship of 8000 
tons is generally delayed about ten days, which is 



96 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

roughly a third of the time it should take for such a 
ship to perform the entire journey from Basra to 
the British Isles. 

This was unfortunate while the war lasted, when 
tonnage was so scarce, and it is still a serious matter, 
with a world-shortage of food-supplies and the de- 
mands for economy in the shipping world. The 
price of petroleum in the British Isles might have 
been considerably reduced if there had been no 
Basra Bar. It is estimated that the removal of 
the difficulties created by this deposit of mud would 
mean a gain equivalent to 16 per cent, of the cargo 
boats and 9 per cent, of the oil-tank steamers that 
proceed to and from the oil refinery of Abadan. 

British engineers have begun to tackle the 
problems of the Basra Bar. The whole matter has 
been thoroughly investigated by more than one 
expert, and they declare that the task of adequately 
dredging the Bar will not be a very lengthy process 
nor a specially expensive one. The bottom is soft, 
there are apparently no rocks, the current of the 
river is swift, and the banks can be suitably built up. 
When this mud deposit is scientifically dealt with 
and brought under control, it is possible that 
another Port Said may arise at the mouth of the 
great river, somewhere near the entrance to the 
Persian Gulf. 

Basra is the chief port for Mesopotamia, but it is 
situated about 70 miles from the Persian Gulf, on 
the right bank of the Shat 1 Arab. The Euphrates, 
the Tigris, and the Karun rivers empty themselves 



THE BASRA BAR 97 

into this magnificent waterway, which is about 
120 miles in length, from 30 to 60 feet deep, and 
averages about 1000 yards in width. 

The German engineers who surveyed the Baghdad 
Railway sought for a terminus on the shores of the 
Gulf beyond the Bar, as they contemplated using 
their great Hamburg-American liners and antici- 
pated the eventual establishment of a naval base. 
For such a purpose Basra was deemed unsuitable, 
and in 1899 a German cruiser began to investigate 
the Persian Gulf, assisted by a mysterious party 
of German scientists who suddenly appeared at 
Bunder Abbas. In 1906 a regular service of 
steamers was started by the Hamburg-American 
Steamship Company, and the first steamer, gaily 
bedecked with bunting, entered the Gulf ports 
with its band playing the inevitable " Deutschland 
uber Alles." 

In spite of the champagne dinners offered free 
of charge to the Arab chiefs, the native officials, and 
all their friends, Germany failed to secure a footing 
on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and seven miles of 
mud remained as the most serious obstacle to the 
completion of her railway schemes. 

At the outbreak of war the famous Force D 
started from Bahrain and crossed the Bar on the 7th 
of November 19 14, fortunately anticipating, by a few 
hours only, the Turkish mine-laying steamers, that 
were satisfactorily accounted for, or they might 
have sealed the entrance to the Shat '1 Arab and 
the fate of Mesopotamia. 

7 



CHAPTER VI 

THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA, I4TH APRIL I915 

Whilst travelling through Damascus in the summer 
of 1 91 9, I made special inquiries from the Emir 
Feisal and his advisers as to the reason why the 
Arab revolt took place soon after the fall of Kut 
1 Amara. It was the general impression in England 
that our failure to relieve Kut was a very serious 
blow to our prestige in the East, so we were agree- 
ably surprised two months afterwards to learn that 
the Shereef of Mecca had thrown in his lot with 
the Allies. It appears, however, that the die was 
cast long before the retreat from Ctesiphon, and 
our earlier successes around Basra sufficed to en- 
courage the Arabs to snatch the long-looked-for 
opportunity of shaking off the shackles of the Turk. 
The second battle of Shaiba has been regarded 
as one of the smallest of our little " side shows," 
but it made a very great impression upon the 
Arabs, and the news of this " decisive " victory 
over the Turks spread like wild-fire through Arabia. 
It was the last attempt the Turks made to retake 
Basra. During the first battle of Shaiba, on the 

98 











m mm mm " ,^5S^T " 


I BW 


v - JJ^V 


!S 1 




CQ 5 

gfct 


A S v' 


3C \ 




hi 3^ 


/> * : 


t .v v \; 


1 Cjj q 




mm 1 . v 

a Q i * 5. 

Q O U 


111 O > 




u ,.tUj & 


1 r 


utccKs 


v ^ * 




1 5 7*51 UJ 


~r. O ^ -o-rj 


1 ^ ^.^1/1 h CD 


V ; ; t- 


1 h i i''^ s il\8 ^ 


! j 


i > - > ! ft' "- Ni 




I W ^ v$ f /,. 


^ "tL 


1 I 1' ' 




^ OC . j - "^ 


Vc v j- ' 


1 "* i .,\- ^ 


I 


i ^ ?' ' " 1 1 1 x 


" ' v- 


<o - '| _ 


v v O 


V j ^ .,* x 


x * 




-X *.- 


q }-< % 25 \ 


"*- Ji a 


' * Q 


5 \ "= 


* * , . v 


* va 


Vf 5 # ' *"*! 


55l * T~ 




i! r\ * ""I 




. to 


1 i "'. ' \ \ 


J >.* ill 


1 . ^ -V ' 


- - 4 : < 



THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA 99 

3rd of March 19 15, they had attempted a diversion 
with 12,000 troops at Ahwaz, a hundred miles to 
the east, but were defeated in both engagements. 
They rallied a second time around Shaiba with 
15,000 Turkish troops and 10,000 Arabs. So 
confident were the Turks and the Germans of 
their ability to drive us out of Mesopotamia that 
a demonstration took place in Baghdad on the 
14th of April. Amid the firing of guns, a vast 
crowd with bands and banners marched through 
the streets to the German Consulate, where mutual 
congratulations took place upon the " recapture 
of Basra." Shortly afterwards, however, the 
news reached Baghdad that the Turks had been 
thoroughly beaten, that the Arabs had turned 
upon them in their retreat, and that the Turkish 
commander had shot himself in the presence of 
all his officers. 

A vivid account of this decisive little battle 
reached me in a private letter from one of the junior 
officers who took part in it. I venture to reproduce 
the greater part of it, as it illustrates the character 
of those many battles so bravely fought by the men 
to whom we owe the redemption of Mesopotamia 
and the liberation of Arabia. 

" Our long-looked-for scrap has come at last, and 
with a vengeance. The fight of 14th April was a 
veritable battle, long drawn and lasting seven hours. 
We just managed to take the trenches at one locality 
in time before dusk set in ; I was afraid at one time 
our fighting that day would bring no material 



ioo MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

result. I said so at the time to young C, who was 
in the fighting-line with me : ten minutes afterwards 
the trenches were taken. 

" It was really a three days' battle, commencing 
with minor operations in and around Shaiba, start- 
ing in the morning of the 12th at six o'clock, and 
ending up with the battle of Barjisiyeh on the 14th. 

" On the evening of the nth news was brought 
in that the Turkish army was advancing. We 
stood to our trenches and alarm posts all night, and 
at daylight the whole of the horizon (west, north- 
west, and south) was occupied by the enemy, 
extending from Ana's Tomb to Old Basra (vide 
map), at a range of 3500 yards. 

" Their guns and ours opened fire, and a few of 
the enemy approached in one or two places to 
within 1000 yards of our defences. In one case 
I fired about thirty rounds : though I could not 
hit them, my shots went very close, and they 
decamped to a safer distance. 

" The enemy were entrenching all round, and our 
gun-fire was carried on all day. We had ten men 
wounded. Maj.-Gen. M. arrived that night from 
Basra, and took over command of the troops here. 
He has just lately arrived from the Suez Canal 
with a brigade. He brought with him the 24th 
Punjabis (one of his brigade). His brigade would 
have crossed earlier in the day, but General N. 
thought they would be cut up by superior numbers 
crossing water and mud from Old Basra. 

" Luckily this was done, and he crossed over later 



THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA 101 

in ' bellums ' with the 24th. That night the enemy 
came in close and sniped everywhere ; we met them 
with fusillades. General M. (a man of action) 
grasped the situation at once, and within three 
hours sent the 104th Rifles and the Cavalry Brigade, 
supported by the 24th and Dorsets, to counter- 
attack large numbers of the enemy in this spot 
a good few Arabs supported by the guns. The 
Cavalry Brigade charged at North Mound. This 
made them retire, which they did under shrapnel 
fire. The casualties in this brush were, I think, three 
officers killed ; total killed and wounded about sixty. 

" After this another attack was launched at the 
enemy's advance trenches due west of Kiln Post, 
at about 2000 yards distant. The two double 
companies of the 119th and the whole of the 104th 
took part in this. The trenches were not tenaciously 
held, and they retired from them when we were 
about 500 yards off. 

" I counted about forty killed in my D Company. 
Next morning General M. decided to go for the 
Turkish Army. It was very hot not a breath of 
air when we advanced from camp about 10 a.m. 
Our numbers scarcely totalled 5000, with two 
field batteries, one horse battery, one mountain 
battery, and one brigade of cavalry. The infantry 
regiments were : Dorsets, Norfolks, 24th Punjabis, 
119th (our link), the 120th, noth, and 117th 
Mahrattas sappers and miners. The 104th and 
48th were left behind to guard our camp. 

" It is certain that the Turks fully expected to 



102 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

beat us and take Basra : we did not know they had 
so many. They laid a cunning plan : they sent troops 
forward to attack and draw us on, while they pre- 
pared a strong position two miles east of Barjisiyeh 
Wood. They had their best troops there ten 
Stamboul regiments and in all twenty-four regular 
battalions. Reliable authorities have placed the 
infantry at 15,000, and Arab horsemen 10,000. 
They were armed with Mauser rifles and had a few 
guns ; they were plentifully supplied with small-arm 
ammunition. They chuckled with glee when they 
saw us advancing, and thought they had us com- 
pletely, as we were outflanked by superior numbers. 
The 10,000 Arab horsemen had assembled about a 
mile east of the Watch Tower, and were waiting 
like vultures for the time to come in. Truly we 
were ' up agin' a big thing.' We were in reserve 
at first ; at 1 p.m. No. 1 Company, 119th, and 
No. 4 Company reinforced the firing line of the 
1 6th Brigade (the Dorsets and the 24th right). 
No. 1 Company went on the right of the 24th, and 
No. 4 Company on the left of the Dorsets. I am 
speaking of the 16th Brigade only now the 18th 
I will leave out. At 2 p.m., or thereabouts, this 
line had reached within 400 yards of a section of 
Turkish trenches. There was a continual hail of 
bullets, and things looked uncomfortable. About 
this time I was with the three remaining companies 
in reserve, L. having gone off previously as escort 
to guns. We were almost under the same fire, the 
only cover being a slight rise of ground in front. 



THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA 103 

" Bullets were hitting the ground everywhere ; it 
was a marvel we were not all hit, but a few were. 
We were then only 400 yards from the firing-line. 
At about three o'clock things were looking a bit 
critical and ammunition was running short. I 
was then ordered to advance with F Company and 
reinforce and assume command, as L. had been 
wounded (he died later). I arrived safely, some of 
my men being hit. I honestly never expected to 
reach them without some sort of hit. I was not even 
scratched. No. 1 (the Rawat D Company) were 
behaving splendidly ; they never flinched and were 
as keen as mustard. I was filled with admiration 
for them. C. was very pleased to see us : F Company 
brought new life and ammunition. 

" We continued to blaze away steadily at the 
trenches only 400 yards away, a little down the slope 
we were practically on the crest. Their trenches 
were marvellously well situated. I borrowed a rifle 
from a Sepoy and fired about 100 rounds, the Sepoy 
handing me charges. At about 4.45 p.m. I said to 
C. : 'If we don't take those trenches our endeavours 
will not be of any use, and it will mean defeat and 
retirement.' At 5 p.m. the enemy seemed to be 
wavering, as the 18th Brigade were forcing them 
back about 1000 yards on our right. At this 
period General M. said the trenches must be taken. 

" Suddenly one felt a feeling come down the firing- 
line, and before one could realise anything we had 
no orders we were cheering and rushing at the 
trenches. We, the Dorsets, and the 24th arrived 



104 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

about the same time. The Dorsets, of course, 
initiated the charge, but it was practically a dead 
heat. Half the enemy turned and fled, the other 
half surrendered ; we took many prisoners, but 
hundreds must have left the trenches before we 
advanced. The three companies wanted to carry 
on the pursuit, and I had to restrain their ardour. 

" By Gad ! I felt relieved. Just did the trick in 
time. It was getting dusk, and there were the dead 
to be collected and the wounded to be succoured. 
Goodness only knows what would have happened 
to the wounded if we had not been successful ! It 
was a question of valuable minutes of daylight. 

" The enemy's camp was in Barjisiyeh Wood, 
about 1500 yards to the west of the trenches we 
captured. So great was their demoralisation that 
they left their camp standing, leaving every mortal 
thing they had there food, cooking-pots, etc. The 
guns shelled them and their camp unmercifully ; 
thousands must have been killed. I heard that 
the Arabs, seeing the Turks were not doing very 
well, took all their camels, the hired transports, and 
cleared off altogether. To-day the Turkish Army 
is no more. 

" In our attack on the trenches we were not helped 
by the artillery till just before we charged. All the 
senior gunner ofhcers were hors de combat, and it 
was hard to co-operate. They did their work well ; 
they must have killed thousands, and to them a 
large share of the victory is due, as well as to our 
determined advance, 



THE BATTLE OF SHAIBA 105 

" The 119th and the 120th have made a great 
name for themselves. I do not think there are 
better native regiments as regards spirit and pluck 
in the whole of India. The best of the old Bombay 
regiments have added to their good names ; they 
never once flinched or got their tails down. The 
1 20th lost three officers killed and many wounded. 

" We were very lucky, only one officer killed and 
one wounded. We lost more native officers, viz. 
two killed and three wounded. I think the 120th 
lost as much as any regiment we had 22 killed and 
about 90 wounded. My pony was wounded twice, 
in the shoulder and lower lip ; the former the 
vet. says will not, he thinks, be serious the bullet 
has gone in. 

" Our doctor did gallant things, helping Major L. 
out of the firing-line, bandaging him and others 
under heavy fire, and carrying him away on his 
back, till Major L. fainted and fell off. Young E. 
was ordered up with mules, carrying boxes of am- 
munition to be taken to the firing-line (there was 
little or no cover). Ten mules were either killed, 
wounded, or fell ; two muleteers were killed, and 
three wounded. E. escaped without a scratch. All 
the ammunition reached the firing-line. 

" Next morning, 15th April, numbers of Turks 
came in and surrendered. We captured one and 
a half million rounds of ball in their camp, and much 
shell ammunition. There is no doubt the whole 
thing was engineered from Constantinople and took 
months of preparation, and that they were confident 



106 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

of success. We hear that the Arabs in Basra, 
before the battle, were getting very insolent and 
overbearing in fact, going as far as getting flags 
ready for the victorious Turkish Army. 

" They heard the news before we did, and imme- 
diately commenced salaaming and grovelling. No 
doubt Basra was their objective. The heat of that 
day was terrific not a breath of air and our 
thirst was awful : we got so parched. We did not 
get back to our camp till 9 p.m. 

" Our casualties, I hear, amounted to over 1100. 
The Turkish losses amounted to 6000, including 
prisoners. We had actually five companies in 
the firing-line, two companies in reserve, and one 
doing escort to the guns. The Turks had six of 
the latest machine guns from Berlin. They did a 
lot of damage. The trench we dashed up to had 
none in action, but one was found the next day in 
the rear of the trench, and it has been handed over 
to us as a trophy." 




(l) Courtyard of a native house in KutTAmara (p. 108). (2) The in- 
habitants of KutTAmara watching the arrival Of the British steamer 
(p. 242). (3) River steamboat " Julnar" that made the last attempt 
to relieve the beleaguered garrison in KutTAmara (p. n8) k 



CHAPTER VII 

THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 

A town unheard of before the war, Kiit 1 Amara 
has now become an historic name-place which will 
long be remembered as the centre of valiant con- 
flicts and the scene of a glorious resistance to the 
bitter end by a gallant section of the Army of the 
British Empire. The story of the siege of Kut is 
an episode in the history of the war which should 
make us proud of the men who held on amid suffer- 
ing, privation, and death, and by doing so ren- 
dered, as we shall show, invaluable aid to the cause 
of Great Britain and her Allies. 

A comparatively small town of about 6000 
inhabitants, Kut is situated on the eastern bank, 
at the extremity of a large loop in the Tigris. 
Its prosperity chiefly depended upon the river 
traffic, for it was the first place at which the British 
steamers called on their way from Baghdad to 
Basra, and the last stopping-place before Baghdad 
on the journey north. The native sailing-boats 
that plied between the Euphrates and the Tigris 
had to pass through the Shat '1 Hai, which leaves the 

107 



io8 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Tigris near the town of Kut, where they invariably 
called. It became, therefore, a centre of retail 
trade for the Arab villages, and was more distinctly 
Eastern than Basra, Amara, or Baghdad. There 
were not many houses in the place suitable for 
European habitations ; herein lay the first of the 
many drawbacks to the maintenance of a successful 
resistance. 

The single-storied and flat-roofed dwellings of the 
natives are mostly built of mud and are crowded 
together into an irregular mass, through which a 
maze-like tangle of narrow streets twist and turn. 
These streets are half choked up with refuse and 
heaps of filth, and are so narrow that you have to 
take refuge in a doorway to allow a laden donkey to 
pass ; otherwise the dirty, wet water-skins of the 
water-carrier will leave an unpleasant mark on your 
clothing. 

Our illustration gives a good idea of the interior 
of one of these houses. The poles to the left of 
the group of Arabs are fixed in a pyramid of mud 
and are placed at the four corners of the bed for 
the support of the mosquito netting. The upturned 
basket protects the villagers' larder from the pariah 
dogs and the cats that prowl about night and day- 
The kitchen range, where the food for the family 
is cooked, is immediately behind the basket, and 
consists of a few bricks plastered with mud, easily 
made and quickly repaired. The smoke from the 
fireplace has left its mark upon the wall. One of 
the chief duties of the women-folk is to see that the 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT iog 

water-jar to the left of the basket is always filled with 
drinking-water from the Tigris. The rough wooden 
bench to the right of the Arabs is used as a " divan " 
by day and a bedstead by night, when the bedding 
is brought out from one of the rooms. In front of 
the bench is the baby's cradle. 

In such surroundings were our men huddled to- 
gether during the siege, and the mud houses had to 
be used for all purposes by the beleaguered forces of 
General Townshend. Some were larger than others, 
and a few possessed an upper story ; but they were 
all constructed on the same plan, with a series of 
rooms surrounding an open courtyard. As a 
protection from the great heat of the sun, all the 
walls are thick, the rooms dark, and the windows 
small. It was into a group of such houses that our 
field ambulance was moved and billeted during the 
siege. Our sick and wounded were here compara- 
tively safe from rifle bullets which came over at 
all angles in a continual sheet by day and night 
with the most remarkable intensity. Some, of 
course, would penetrate doors and windows and 
find their billet in some poor fellow's inside. 
Naturally, these mud walls provided little or no 
protection against shells, which fell occasionally 
into all the different hospitals. 

A Turkish aviator one day dropped a bomb into 
the British General Hospital, which killed twenty- 
two patients and wounded many others It would 
be unjust to accuse the Turks of firing deliberately 
at the hospitals, for in such a small town the hospitals 



no MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

were unavoidably near all the legitimate targets ; 
and it is satisfactory to note that the Turkish aviator 
responsible for bombing the British hospital came 
in person to apologise to our senior medical officer 
as soon as possible after the surrender. 

A very different state of things existed at the 
Turkish base in Baghdad, where there are large 
numbers of very comfortable buildings which were 
at the disposal of the Turks so long as they held the 
city, and in which our own wounded were quickly 
accommodated after the capture of Baghdad by 
General Maude. When our troops entered the 
city it was found that the Turks had destroyed all 
British property except the fine British Residency, 
which had been used as a Turkish hospital while 
we were fighting to relieve the garrison at Kut. 
But the tide turned at last in our favour, and these 
fine buildings, including the Turkish barracks, 
provided excellent accommodation for our troops 
and wounded when the Turks were driven out and 
compelled to find uncomfortable accommodation 
in the villages north of Samara, where the houses 
are as bad as those in Kut. 

There is a very good example in Kut 1 Amara of 
the curious way in which the Arabs irrigate their 
gardens. The Mesopotamian " cherad " is one of 
the most primitive irrigation wheels possible : 
propped up on the trunks of date palms, a rope is 
carried round a squeaky wooden wheel. At one 
end a mule or cow is secured, and at the other end 
a leathern bucket, which is let down into the water 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT in 

when the animal comes to the top of an incline, and 
is drawn up when the animal descends. The 
water is emptied into a channel and flows away to 
the gardens. The British steamer which plies up 
and down the Tigris is generally lashed to a landing- 
stage at Kut '1 Amara by the side of one of these 
primitive irrigation wheels. The traveller who 
took the photograph relates what happened while 
the steamer stayed the night at Kut. The squeak- 
ing of the wheel kept him awake, and he asked one 
of the officers if he would put a little grease on the 
wheel. He kindly did so and the squeaking ceased ; 
but the next morning the owner of the " cherad " 
came and asked the officer what he had done to 
his wheel, for the " cherad " made no noise and the 
animals would not work unless the " cherad " 
squeaked ; but the officer persuaded him it would 
soon be all right and would shortly begin to squeak 
as usual. General Townshend asked for vegetable 
seeds, and when these were supplied to him by 
aeroplanes, these primitive " cherads " were used 
for irrigating his vegetable gardens. 

It will be remembered that the chief event which 
led up to the siege of Kut was the strange result of 
the battle of Ctesiphon, near the ruins of the arch 
of Chosroes II., within twenty miles of Baghdad. 
At the conclusion of the battle, General Townshend 
found himself in possession of the field, but his 
losses in killed and wounded, added to the absence 
of any chance of reinforcement, compelled him to 
retire upon Kut. 



ii2 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

General Townshend's main army reached Kut 
from Ctesiphon on the 2nd of December 1915, having 
marched fifty miles in the last thirty-six hours, in 
addition to fighting a heavy rearguard action on the 
1st of December. The last of the troops arrived in 
Kut on 3rd December, and on the following day 
the Turks got their guns into position and began 
shelling Kut. The British troops were working 
feverishly night and day, digging defensive positions, 
pits, and trenches, and erecting huge walls of com- 
pressed fodder to provide shelter for the field 
ambulances. 

The wounded had to be accommodated for a time 
under a small group of palm trees which was, how- 
ever, swept night and day by a hail of bullets and 
shells. Many, of course, were killed, and some had 
wonderful escapes. While a medical officer was 
attending the wounded, a bullet came into his 
pocket, perforated his pocket case, and was thus 
turned in its course and prevented from inflicting a 
serious wound. On the 5th of December the troops 
were completely shut off from the outer world, from 
which date is counted the hundred and forty-seven 
days of this remarkable siege, remarkable amongst 
other reasons for the substantial amount of help it 
afforded to the Allied cause. 

During December, and for the greater part of 
January, the garrison struggled for its very exist- 
ence against the repeated onslaughts of the enemy. 
It not only successfully repelled every attack, 
but it occasionally made sorties, capturing both 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 113 

prisoners and material. It was rumoured (though 
some declare the incident occurred at Gallipoli) that 
in one of the sorties the men captured an unsavoury 
goat and a still more unclean Turk. The following 
day, when things were dull, a discussion arose as 
to which was worse, the smell of a goat or the smell 
of a Turk, and the senior officer volunteered to act 
as umpire. The goat was then brought in, where- 
upon the umpire fainted; then the Turk was brought 
in, whereupon the goat fainted ! 

On Christmas Eve the relief forces unwittingly 
rendered an invaluable service to the hard-pressed 
forces of General Townshend. Their cavalry raided 
a Turkish stronghold named Ghussab's Fort. They 
blew up and burnt the place, carrying away sheep, 
cattle, and timber. 

On the same day the Turks were making another 
desperate effort to enter Kut, and for the first and 
only time penetrated the British trenches. After 
battering our line with shells, they got a footing in 
the north-east bastion. Within a few hours, how- 
ever, they were again driven out ; and so, as always 
during this prolonged siege, the Turks were com- 
pletely repulsed, with losses which were acknow- 
ledged to be severe. Christmas Day was therefore 
celebrated in fine spirit by both the beleaguered 
within and by the relief columns outside Kut. The 
camel thorn and caper berries were labelled as holly 
and mistletoe and served for decorations. The 
singing at church parade was particularly hearty, 
and the customary Christmas festivities were 

8 



H4 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

kept up with continuous choruses till late in 
the night. 

Imagine, though, the plight of the sick and the 
wounded, who were obliged to lie helpless, confined 
in a small place within rifle range and shell fire from 
every point of the compass, and returning to the 
trenches as soon as convalescent without rest or 
change. Many a man must have envied his 
brothers in Europe who, within a few hours of being 
wounded, found themselves in the comfort of some 
well-appointed base or home hospital, with every 
luxury, beds to lie on, and perhaps an occasional 
drive or other form of entertainment during con- 
valescence. In Kut, however, for example, on one 
afternoon alone the Indian General Hospital had 
sixteen shells into it, a condition of affairs which 
could hardly conduce to a rapid recovery when 
nerves were already shaken by some severe wound. 
The men were very patient, and they all lived, on 
the whole, a most cheery and hopeful existence, 
broken occasionally by waves of depression as each 
attempt at relief failed. 

Learning to be thankful for small mercies, every- 
body was delighted when the aeroplanes that came 
over dropped them a few newspapers, medicines 
in tabloid form, spare parts and necessaries for guns 
and machinery, letters from home, occasionally 
money, and later on food ; for in the last few weeks 
a regular aerial traffic in supplies was instituted : 
a daily procession of aeroplanes brought flour, 
dropping sacks containing two or three hundred 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 115 

pounds at a time from a height of five or six 
thousand feet. The bags would naturally burst 
when they reached the earth from this great height, 
but three or four sacks were used, one inside the 
other, so that the precious food in the inner sack 
should not be lost. 

One of our pilots made a great sensation one day 
in the Turkish camp when he looped the loop and 
cart-wheeled over Kut, in contempt of their 
" Archibalds." Prisoners subsequently told us that 
this derisive little bit of bravado greatly impressed 
the Turkish troops. 

In February the heavy rains and the floods added 
to the discomfort of our men. The greater part of the 
twenty-five milesof trenches were repeatedly flooded. 
It was very cold at night, and the men had no change 
of clothes or opportunities for drying what they 
had ; and as there was only wet mud to lie in, there 
were numerous cases of pneumonia, and even some 
of frortbite. The character of the siege, however, 
was changed by the later floods, when the river rose 
and overflowed its banks. It caused the British 
troops to abandon the front line of trenches, but 
the floods also completely washed out the Turks 
from the whole of their investing lines on the 
northern side, compelling them to retire for a 
thousand yards and placing an expanse of water 
between them and the British lines. The enemy, 
therefore, could now no longer worry our forces by 
rifle fire and grenades, trench mortars and mines, but 
had to confine themselves to artillery bombardment. 



n6 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

These same floods, however, considerably ham- 
pered the British relief expeditions. It is possible 
that the Turks themselves occasionally broke down 
the banks of the rivers, just as the Germans did 
in France, to impede the advance of our troops ; 
but the banks of the Mesopotamian rivers have 
been so badly neglected by the Turks that enormous 
floods were bound to be of frequent occurrence 
without any untoward assistance. 

The stocks of food grew less and less, but a large 
quantity of grain was discovered in February hidden 
in some of the Arab houses a veritable godsend to 
hungry men. By the end of February the troops 
had eaten all the magnificent bullocks belonging to 
the heavy batteries ; the camels also had been 
devoured, and a cheery officer solemnly informs us 
that the hump under certain circumstances is quite 
a delicacy. It has the appearance and flavour of 
substantial salt beef. 

There were over four thousand horses and mules 
in Kiit at the beginning of the siege, and it was 
obvious that the garrison could only afford to find 
food for those animals which in their turn would be 
required to feed the garrison. In this respect the 
mules were more accommodating than the horses, 
for it was found possible to teach them to become 
cannibals. There was no grass in the place, the 
hay and straw ran out, so that palm leaves and 
the husks of grain formed the chief diet of the 
unfortunate animals. 

Some millstones were dropped into Kut by the 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 117 

aeroplanes, and a little flour-mill was ingeniously 
set up. As the weary weeks progressed the bread 
ration decreased and all luxuries, such as sugar, 
cheese, jam, butter, and tea, entirely disappeared. 
The monotony of the diet was very trying. Some of 
the men shot sparrows, starlings, doves, rooks, 
occasionally a seagull ; and once a flight of locusts 
was welcomed with delight. 

As the men became more and more hungry, they 
got weaker and weaker, so that they were scarcely 
able to carry their kit. The period of sentry duty 
was reduced to one hour each. Scurvy became 
very prevalent amongst the Indian troops, for no 
vegetables were available except the grasses and 
herbs which came up after rain in places where 
there had once been cultivation. The leaves 
of a small wild convolvulus clover were used as 
44 spinach." 

The last gallant attempt that was made to bring 
relief to the garrison, which so nearly met with 
success, must rank, in spite of its failure, as one 
of the finest and bravest episodes of the whole 
war. The large river steamship J ulnar, dismantled 
of all unnecessary superstructure, was stacked up 
with over two* hundred and seventy tons of pro- 
visions. It was manned by a volunteer crew under 
the direction of Commander C. Cowley, V.C., who 
knew the river remarkably well, as he had been an 
officer on board the river steamers for nearly thirty 
years. On the 24th of April he started to make a 
dash for Kut. The steamer passed through more 



n8 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

than twelve miles of the Turkish lines, although fired 
at by thousands of rifles and numerous guns, till at 
the last bend of the river, within sight and range of 
Kut, when almost every man on board the ship had 
been either killed or wounded, an unlucky shell 
burst upon the bridge. This wounded the last 
officer, and a Turko-German device caused the 
ship to run aground on the outside of the bend 
Treacherous Arab spies had informed the Turks 
of the loading up of the J ulnar, so they had 
stretched a strong cable across the river, not at 
right angles to the banks, but slanting towards a 
point where they concentrated troops and artillery. 
The bow of the Julnar, instead of snapping the 
cable, was suddenly deflected and the ship dashed 
on the bank. It was a terrible disappointment to 
those who were watching her from the beleaguered 
town, when they noticed that the ship ceased to 
move, and during the whole of that anxious night 
they heard the battle raging round her. When 
daylight came, they could see the ill-fated vessel 
at the end of the reach, only a few miles away. It 
had failed in its effort to bring relief to them, but 
the attempt must be recorded as one of the most 
heroic deeds done in connection with the expedi- 
tions in Mesopotamia. The sad sequel to this 
touching story was the report that our brave 
Commander was apparently murdered by the 
ruthless Turks. After the return of our prisoners, 
we learned from their own lips that Commander 
Cowley, though wounded, had been captured alive, 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 119 

that he was immediately separated from his com- 
panions and mysteriously disappeared. 

The beleaguered garrison was now at the end of 
its resources, on account of floods and other natural 
obstacles which the relief forces had been unable to 
break through. It is remarkable that the chief 
resistance took place at Senna-i-yat, which General 
Townshend's forces had captured from the Turks 
with much fewer men some months before. This 
was confessedly the strongest position which the 
Turks had prepared in Mesopotamia, and it was un- 
doubtedly a brilliant military achievement when 
General Townshend's small forces succeeded in 
routing the Turks from this strongly fortified 
position ; and now it was Senna-i-yat that held up 
the relief forces. 

Our beleaguered troops had the utmost con- 
fidence in their great General, and firmly believed 
that, if only he had departed from Kut in an aero- 
plane and taken command of the relief forces, 
he would certainly have broken the Turkish re- 
sistance again at Senna-i-yat and delivered the 
suffering garrison. 

General Townshend's army was never actually 
defeated, but it was at length compelled to capitu- 
late for the simple reason that there was absolutely 
nothing further to eat. 

It is too readily assumed that General Towns- 
hend's rapid advance on Baghdad was a military 
blunder, which resulted in an unnecessary sacrifice 
of 15,000 men, To those of us who know something 



120 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

of Mesopotamia and the situation which faced our 
authorities in the Eastern theatre of war, the dash 
towards Baghdad appeared to have been the most 
triumphant piece of strategy which we had been 
privileged to witness since the outbreak of war. 

If only our reinforcements had succeeded in 
extricating General Townshend's troops, it would 
have been acknowledged that the achievements of 
his little force were remarkably serviceable to the 
Allied cause from many points of view. Even as 
it was, however, the garrison rendered excellent 
service to the cause, at a time when such help was 
most urgently needed. 

In the first place, the stand which these troops 
made against the Turks at Kut successfully checked 
the Turkish advance towards Basra until sufficient 
reinforcements arrived in the country to preserve 
for Great Britain that enormous stretch of fertile 
land which had already been won by the famous 
Sixth Division in Mesopotamia. These plains of 
Mesopotamia were at once brought under cultiva- 
tion, so that they were quickly able to produce 
sufficient food for the army, and in due course began 
to export a substantial amount of grain. 

Secondly, the war revealed to us the tremendous 
importance of the step taken by Mr Lloyd George 
in June 191 4, when he secured for the Admiralty 
the valuable oil-fields of the Anglo-Persian Oil 
Company. There has been an ever-increasing 
demand for oil, and it wasessential to the satisfactory 
prosecution of the war. The Rumanian and the 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 121 

Russian supplies of oil were cut off, so that the 
demands from America became enormous ; and there 
are scientific men in the United States who think 
America has reached the limit of her productive 
power in the matter of petroleum, and will soon need 
the whole of her resources for her own requirements. 
Her exports in 1916 were nearly 2500 million 
gallons. There are 3J million automobiles in the 
United States, and the output is increasing at the 
rate of 25 per cent, every year. In Canada the 
number of motor cars increased from 62,000 in 1914 
to more than 110,000 in 1916. The most important 
source of our future oil supply, therefore, is situated 
in Lower Mesopotamia ; and if the British forces 
had been obliged to retreat from Kut to Basra, 
it might have been impossible to guard the far- 
distant oil-fields and the two hundred miles of 
pipe line, which was seriously broken up in some 
places by Turkish troops before we captured the 
town of Kut 1 Amara. 

Thirdly, the detention of the Turkish forces at 
Kut gave time for the organisation of the necessary 
roads and railways in a roadless country, and without 
these it would have been difficult to hold any 
portion of Mesopotamia. Equally important was 
the respite it gave for the completion of the fleet 
of river gunboats that, under the command of 
Captain Nunn, so effectually co-operated with 
General Maude, and enabled him to make his 
successful advance to the city of Baghdad. 

Fourthly, the siege of Kut prevented the Turkish 



122 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

regular troops from joining the 12,000 Persian 
rebels under Prince Reuss. If only the Turks 
could have penetrated into Persia, they would have 
appeared on the Indian frontier with many thou- 
sands of rebel fanatics from Persia and Afghanistan. 
This would have necessitated our sending a large 
army to India at a time when not a man could be 
safely spared from the Western and Eastern fronts. 
Townshend's tenacity, however, kept the Turks in 
Mesopotamia, while Russian cavalry dispersed the 
Persian bands, and thus the Indian frontier was 
saved. 

Fifthly, it is certain also that General Towns- 
hend's expedition facilitated the entry of the 
Russians into the great Turkish fortress of Erze- 
room. A few weeks after the battle of Ctesiphon 
I was privileged to examine a broken kettle-drum 
which had been taken from the Turks and had 
been sent to England by one of Townshend's officers. 
The inscription on this kettle-drum, and the ad- 
dresses on certain envelopes that were sent with it, 
confirmed my conviction that the Kurdish troops 
who ought to have been kept on guard against 
the Russians' advance in the north had likewise 
been hurried down to Baghdad to check the progress 
of our rash little army that was threatening the 
capital of Mesopotamia. It was not anticipated 
that the Russians would move forward in the depth 
of winter, and the Germans were mocking us in 
their newspapers by pointing out that the invest- 
ment of our forces in Kut was a proof of the im- 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 123 

possibility of the Allies being able to help each 
other, since the Russians could not come to save us. 
In point of fact, however, it turned out to be 
exactly the opposite to what the Germans supposed, 
for we were able, by a successful operation, to help 
our Russian allies ; and whilst our enemies were 
attracted to Kut, the Russians, behind the backs 
of the Kurds, commenced to scale the snow-clad 
mountains of Armenia, and eventually sprang a 
surprise upon the depleted forces of the best 
natural stronghold of Asiatic Turkey. 

In addition to all this, the expedition deflected the 
greater part of an enormous army that was preparing 
for a second attack upon Egypt, for Townshend's 
advance compelled the Turks to give up their ex- 
pedition against Egypt in order to save Baghdad. 
The holding of this ancient capital of Mesopotamia 
was vital to the prestige of the Turks amongst the 
Arabs and Persians, hence their decision to post- 
pone the capture of Cairo ! It meant, however, that 
Townshend's army was suddenly confronted with 
enormous forces, which necessitated his retirement 
on Kut ; but he had saved the Suez Canal and 
delivered our Empire from a serious menace to its 
most vital artery of communications. 

There are two significant paragraphs in the 
report of the Mesopotamian Commission which 
reveal the influence upon the Kut Expedition 
exerted by one who became " the best known and 
most universally popular man of any race or 
creed in Mesopotamia," 



124 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

In paragraph i, page 20, we are told : " On 
23rd November 1914, the day after Basra was 
occupied by General Barrett's forces, Sir Percy 
Cox, the Indian Government's Political Representa- 
tive in Mesopotamia, telegraphed to the Viceroy : 
' With General Officer Commanding, I have been 
studying topographical details bearing on an ad- 
vance to Baghdad in case such an advance should 
be decided on,' and he proceeded to outline a 
reasoned proposal for an advance on Baghdad." 

From this it appears that as early as November 
1 914 the proposal for an advance on Baghdad 
came originally from Sir Percy Cox, who had 
studied the situation with the General Officer 
Commanding. I have met officers from Mesopo- 
tamia who applaud Sir John Nixon's endorsement 
of this early proposal, and point out the wisdom of 
his surmise that the difficulty of fighting our way 
through a Turkish army entrenched above Kut 
might be more serious and costly than a rapid 
advance to Baghdad upon the heels of a Turkish 
army in flight. An advance on Baghdad a few 
months earlier might have given to General Towns- 
hend's army the most dramatic victory of the war. 

The other paragraph (No. 7, on page 32) tells us 
that " the Kut disaster might have been averted 
for a long time if the Arab population, about 6000, 
had been expelled before the investment began. 
Sir Percy Cox was averse to such a measure, as he 
was unwilling to hand them over to the tender 
mercies of the Turks and hostile Arabs, but their 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 125 

retention undoubtedly added to the difficulties of 
supply." 

This humane consideration for the Arabs has 
evidently not been in vain, for the one man 
mentioned, in terms of affection and regard, by 
practically all the inhabitants as a suitable ad- 
ministrator for Mesopotamia was Sir Percy Cox, 
the wise, the just, the beloved " Cokkos." 

The fortitude of General Townshend's brave 
troops has now been amply rewarded, for the fall 
of Baghdad shattered Turkish prestige ; and the 
glorious results that succeeded the unfortunate 
sacrifice of our brave army might have been 
impossible but for the long detention of the Turkish 
forces at the siege of Kut 1 Amara. 

A few other facts connected with this remarkable 
story are worth remembering. General Towns- 
hend's army was at that time the largest British 
force which had ever surrendered to our enemies, 
and the nation to which it surrendered was the 
most disreputable of all our foes. Without the 
aid of the Germans and the facilities of the Baghdad 
Railway, the Turks would have been unable to resist 
even Townshend's little army at a distance so 
remote from their capital and base of supplies. 

Another interesting fact is that the General who 
surrendered to the Turks was the very man to 
whom the Turks made a full, complete, and un- 
conditional surrender. From the island of Principo 
he tried three times to make his escape, and then, 
at great risk to his personal safety, he did his utmost 



126 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

to bring about the downfall of Enver Pasha's govern- 
ment. On the fall of Enver Pasha the new ministers 
sent for him to help them. His conditions were that 
he must be a free man at once, and that the Turks must 
immediately open the Dardanelles. Half an hour 
afterwards he left the Sublime Porte with a document 
in his pocket securing the opening of the Dardanelles, 
the closing of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea fleet, 
and the immediate release of all our prisoners of war. 

The report of the Mesopotamian Commission 
revealed the awful conditions under which our brave 
men fought and suffered in the first critical months 
of that strenuous campaign. The army that was 
never defeated was ordered to advance on Baghdad 
in spite of Townshend's protests. In a desperate 
battle he routed the Turkish army at Ctesiphon ; 
then, weary as they were, his well-disciplined veter- 
ans retreated ninety miles with the reinforced Turks 
at their heels. Not a single man nor a single gun 
was lost, neither was a single wounded soldier left 
behind ; and in that wonderful retreat over a water- 
less desert these war-worn heroes turned round and 
wiped out the Turkish advance guard of 10,000 men. 

Townshend might have fought his way out of 
Kut with smaller losses than the surrender entailed, 
for he wired to the Commander-in-Chief : "I must 
be relieved in a month. If not, I won't stay here." 

The Commander-in-Chief guaranteed to relieve 
him in a month, but unfortunately failed ; so 
Townshend stayed at Kut and thereby saved the 
whole of Mesopotamia. 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 127 

Townshend's last message from his chief was an 
order to surrender, when he received a wireless : " I 
cannot relieve you ; make the best terms you can." 

The remnant of his " contemptible " little army 
the heroes of Shaiba, Basra, Kut, and Ctesiphon 
reached home without a welcome or a cheer. They 
were broken in body by three long years of Turkish 
tyranny, and they may well be broken in heart at the 
amazing fact that the " gentle Turk " to-day receives 
more honour and praise from British lips than our 
valorous sons who saved us from a Turkish triumph. 

Soon after the signing of the Armistice, I passed 
through the great Baghcha Tunnel on the Baghdad 
Railway, where our men were forced to labour under 
terrible conditions of hardship and cruelty. I secured 
a photograph of the cemetery where so many of 
our men are buried ; and the following poem, which 
was written by one of the prisoners at Kustamuni, 
appeared in The Near East on 27th December 1918. 

THE ROADMAKERS 
A Song of the Dead Men of Kut 

The Jews they toiled for Pharaoh, 

And groaned beneath his rod, 
For Pharaoh's hand was heavy 

Till the people called on God ; 
And God showed signs and wonders 

To set His chosen free, 
And broke the rod of Pharaoh, 
And smote the land of Pharaoh, 
And slew with plagues his first-born, 

His armies with the sea. 



128 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Five to our one, you fled from us on many a stricken 
field; 
We fought you all the sweltering seasons through ; 
And when you hemmed us in at last and we were forced to 
yield, 
We struck our flag to Hunger, not to you. 
You lied to us with courteous speech, and we believed you 
then, 
To learn too soon your honour's little worth. 
To-day but few are left alive to tell the tale to men, 
But our blood cries out against you from the earth. 



Famished and spent, across the waste, beast-like you drove 
us on, 
And clubbed to death the stragglers by the way ; 
Our sick men in the lazar huts you left to die alone, 

And you robbed the very dying as they lay. 
Naked and starved we built your roads and tunnelled 
through your hills, 
And you flogged us when we fainted at our work. 
Fevered beneath the sun we toiled, racked with the winter 
chills, 
Till death released us, kindlier than the Turk. 



The wastes wherethrough you herded us, the barren ways 
we came, 
When the weak fell out to die beside the track, 
The remnants of your armies shall be hunted through the 
same, 
With the swords of our avengers at their back. 
Your dole of bread shall fail you then, and thirst shall thin 
your ranks ; 
You shall faint beneath the burden of the suns, 
And the carrion-scented Arabs shall be hovering on your 
flanks 
To snatch the dwindling salvage of our guns. 



THE HEROIC DEFENCE OF KUT 129 

The kin of us you murdered shall be masters of your lands, 

They shall batter down the bulwarks of your trust ; 
The city of your sultans shall be wrested from your hands, 

Your glory shall be trampled in the dust. 
And the tunnels that we drove for you, the roads that we 
have made, 

Shall be highways for the armies of your foe ; 
We shall mock you from our graves, that in what we did as 
slaves 

We helped, we too, to work your overthrow. 

Heartbroken and forsaken, 

Our Calvary we trod, 
Yet with our faith unshaken 

We turned from you to God ; 
And God has greatly taught us 

To count our losses gain, 
Since we who fought for England, 
Here, too, took thought for England, 
In bondage wrought for England, 

And have not died in vain. 

W. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF MESOPOTAMIA 

One of the most interesting and most valuable 
features of Mesopotamia is its abundance of archaeo- 
logical treasures. The whole surface of the country 
is thickly covered with ruined temples, towers, and 
palaces, with extensive mounds and hidden cities 
of great antiquity, with innumerable smaller ruins 
of genuine historical value, with traces of great 
canals and reservoirs, with fragments of statuary 
and works of art that should make these lands of 
special educational value to the whole civilised 
world. 

Egypt was brought from bankruptcy to prosperity 
quite as much on account of its attractions for 
tourists as by reason of its commercial enterprises. 
In like manner, most of the wealth of modern 
Palestine has been acquired from its visitors and 
pilgrims, who gathered from the ends of the earth 
to get a brief glimpse of its sacred sites. There is 
every prospect now that Mesopotamia will become 
more popular even than Egypt, for it is being made 
accessible to the Western world, and already it 

130 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 131 

is safer than heretofore for the pilgrims from the 
East. Egypt is too much westernised to be any 
longer the ideal rendezvous for East and West; 
but the tourist who wishes to touch the fringe of 
the East should go henceforth to the bazaars of 
Mesopotamia, visit the Bedouin at Babylon, see the 
Kurds in their precipitous mountains, the Yezidees, 
the Eastern Christians, and the Sabeans in their 
native haunts ; watch the boatmen of the Tigris, the 
Arab merchants of Basra, or the pilgrims that come 
from Persia and Samarkand. In a land that teems 
with historical treasures, the traveller can see so 
many different phases of Eastern life, so many 
features of the present as well as the past, that he 
cannot fail to be thrilled by what cannot be witnessed 
in any other part of the globe. 

Many ancient monuments have been carried off 
to the museums of Europe and America, but there 
is work enough in the country to occupy the atten- 
tion of archaeologists for at least another century. 
The ancient sites will no doubt henceforth be most 
carefully guarded, and a museum at Baghdad could 
easily be made as interesting as the famous museum 
at Cairo. It would be possible also to procure 
models and plaster casts of the more famous 
antiquities already removed, and a restoration of 
some notable specimens of Assyrian art and archi- 
tecture would make Babylon and Nineveh more 
attractive to visitors than the ruins and relics of 
ancient Rome. 

It is reasonable to assume that the Baghdad 



132 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Railway will be completed, and suitable carriage 
roads made to all the most interesting places, 
within the next few years. We shall then be able 
to reach Constantinople by the Orient Express, and 
arrive at the banks of the Euphrates from London 
in five or six days. 

Jerablus is the station for the extensive ruins of 
Carchemish, once the chief city of the Hittites, the 
masters of Syria from noo to 850 B.C. The ruins 
of an important Roman city named Europus over- 
lap the remains of two distinct Hittite cities. 

Here, on the threshold of Mesopotamia, we make 
our first acquaintance with Babylonia. The Hittite 
art, beautifully depicted upon the magnificent 
monuments exposed to view by British archaeo- 
logists, was borrowed from Babylon, and the great 
goddess of Carchemish was the Babylonian Ishtar. 
Some of the well-preserved Hittite figures are 
depicted with belts and sashes of exactly the same 
shape and style as those worn to-day by the gentry 
of Baghdad, and the interior of a Hittite shrine 
bears a remarkable resemblance to the ordering 
of the Jewish temple at Jerusalem. Carchemish 
alone is worth all the trouble of a journey from 
London, though it offers but a foretaste of the 
pleasures that await a visitor to Babylonia. We 
cross the great " Flood " by the magnificent bridge 
of ten spans, and proceed on the Baghdad Railway 
to Nisibin, Ras 1 Ain, and Mosul. 

Nisibin is famous in ecclesiastical history, and for 
two centuries was a frontier fortress of Roman 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 133 

civilisation, until Jovian built Dara about 16 miles 
away, where the ruins that can be seen of this 
Roman outpost cover a very considerable area. 
Nisibin is well situated on the edge of the plain, at 
the foot of the mountains. It was a paradise till 
the days of Selim the Grim, and an important 
centre of trade, as it formed a junction for most of 
the main roads from Europe to Asia. There are 
300 springs at Ras 1 Ain, and the source of the 
Khabur river. A fortified city was built here by 
Theodosius in a.d. 380, but its ruins and those of 
Nisibin are not the only interesting places on the 
way to Nineveh, for the whole country from the 
Euphrates to the Khabur is full of mounds, ruins, 
and historical sites that are as yet hardly accessible 
to the average European traveller. 

The ruins of Nineveh are situated on the eastern 
bank of the Tigris, opposite the modern town of 
Mosul. The two mounds of Kuyunjik and Neby 
Yunis represent the original city, which was sur- 
rounded by a wall to a depth of two miles from the 
river and four miles in length on its outer boundary. 
The Mosul bridge was largely constructed of stones 
extracted from the remains of these ancient walls. 
One of the most important discoveries at Kuyunjik 
was the library of Asshur-banipal. With amazing 
patience the tablets were deciphered by George 
Smith, who revealed to the world the Chaldean 
stories of the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood. 
There is also an account of Sargon's expedition 
against Ashdod (Isa. xx. 1), and a fine slab with 



134 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

pictures and inscriptions recording Sennacherib's 
review of the spoils of Lachish (2 Kings xviii., etc.). 
The Kuyunjik mound contains the remains of two 
enormous palaces, one belonging to Sennacherib, 
whose will was found amongst the many clay docu- 
ments, and the other palace belonging to his 
grandson Asshur-banipal (668-626 B.C.). 

There are many voluminous records of the 
enormous number of marble sculptures, bas-reliefs, 
cylinders, and other treasures unearthed by archae- 
ologists at Kuyunjik ; but the greater part of 
Nineveh remains to be uncovered, and many inter- 
esting days could be spent at these extensive mounds. 

On the Neby Yunis mound there stand a large 
mosque and a Moslem village ; consequently per- 
mission was never granted to excavate this sacred 
eminence. One summer, however, Sir Henry 
Layard made friends with the owner of a large house 
and persuaded him to excavate a cool room below 
the courtyard, in which Layard might sleep during 
the heat of the day. He paid the man handsomely 
for the hire of the room, and acquired all the anti- 
quities that were brought to light by the excavation. 
In 1850 the Turkish governor of Mosul discovered 
at Neby Yunis two large winged bulls and an 
important marble slab. The slab disappeared from 
the Constantinople Museum in 1874, and was re- 
discovered some years later in the British Isles. 

The mounds of Nimrood, situated a few miles 
south of Kuyunjik, are still more extensive, and 
revealed some of the choicest Assyrian monuments 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 135 

found in Mesopotamia, such as the black marble 
obelisk, 7 feet high, of Shalmaneser II. (860-825 B.C.), 
on which is recorded the king's reception of tribute 
from Jehu the son of Omri (1 Kings xix. 16 and 
2 Kings ix. 10). From this Biblical city of Calah 
a magnificent marble bull and a winged lion, with 
some beautiful bas-reliefs, were sent by Layard to 
London, while large numbers of exquisite sculptures 
were reburied in the mounds. Some of the monu- 
ments of marble, glass, and alabaster bear the 
names of Sargon II. (722-705 B.C.), Asshur-nasirapal 
(885-860 B.C.), Shalmaneser II., and Ezarhaddon 
(681-668 B.C.) (2 Kings xix. 27). 

Khorsabad is another ruined city as wonderful 
as Nimrood. It is situated 14 miles north-east of 
Mosul, on the left bank of the river Khorsar, which 
flows through Nineveh into the Tigris. It contains 
the ruined city of Dur-Sharrukeen or Sargon's Castle, 
founded by Sargon II., the father of Sennacherib, 
about 720 B.C., in which some beautiful wall decora- 
tions in blue and white enamelled tiles, sculptured 
halls, and very fine gates were discovered by the 
French excavators. An inscribed box which served 
as a corner-stone contained seven tablets in gold, 
silver, copper, lead, lapis lazuli, magnesite, and 
limestone, with the history of the buildings inscribed 
in identical cuneiform characters upon each one of 
them. This ruined city of Khorsabad covers over 
721 acres, and its discovery by Botta in 1843 
aroused the people of Europe to the importance of 
thoroughly excavating the mounds of Mesopotamia. 



136 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Balawat is another ancient site, 15 miles east of 
Mosul, which has never been properly excavated, 
because it is being used as a burial-ground. Rassam, 
however, recovered some beautiful bronze panels 
which once covered the cedar gates of a large 
palace erected by Shalmaneser II. 

The Bavian monuments and the rock sculptures 
of Gunduk, though less accessible, are worth visiting. 
The picture rocks of Bavian represent King Sen- 
nacherib making an offering to the goddess Ishtar ; 
the inscription records the destruction of Babylon, 
which had rebelled against him and which he rased 
to the ground. There is one huge square panel 
with four gigantic figures, and a dozen smaller panels 
higher up on the rocks. Bavian is situated near 
the banks of the Gomel, 5 miles from Ain Sufni. 
Here were the principal quarries for Nineveh, where 
the monuments were first sculptured, then cut away 
from the rock, lowered to the river-side on rollers, 
and floated down the river on rafts of inflated sheep- 
skins. The caves behind the panels were evidently 
used by hermits a thousand years after the fall of 
Nineveh. 

To the west of Mosul there are ancient ruins all 
along the road to the Yezidee stronghold of Jebel 
Sinjar, a most interesting place to visit when a 
motor road is made. 

The river Tharthar flows from Sinjar to the best- 
preserved ruins I have seen in Mesopotamia. 
Hatra is a well-built circular city lying in the 
midst of extensive pasture lands, far removed from 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 137 

the well - frequented roads. It has been called 
the " Home of Architecture," for it supplied the 
Sassanians with builders, architects, and models 
for the sumptuous palaces that displayed their 
opulence and power. Hatra needs little excavating, 
for, unlike the older Assyrian remains, it is not 
covered with debris, and it looks like a glorious city 
that has recently been ruined by an earthquake. 
Numerous towers adorn the fine stone walls ; a 
magnificent palace stands erect in the midst of the 
city, which is solidly constructed of square stones, 
and many of the buildings are elaborately sculptured 
with figures and ornaments. It was probably 
founded about the first century of the Christian era, 
and was unsuccessfully besieged by both Trajan 
and Severus. The waters of the Tharthar are 
unpleasantly brackish, but the cultured Arabs of 
Hatra must have had some better water supply, for 
I was particularly attracted by the remarkably 
deep wells, beautifully built, broadening out at the 
base, and now, of course, half filled with debris. 
Hatra is not a place for ancient archaeological 
treasures, but it may become a popular resort for 
tourists ; and the fascinating encampments of the 
Shammar and other genuine Arab tribes are better 
seen on the way to Hatra than in any other part 
of Mesopotamia. 

The nearest Assyrian ruin to Hatra is found at 
Kalah Sharghat, on the west bank of the Tigris, 
where the excavations have brought to light Asshur, 
the mother of cities, the oldest capital of Assyria. 



138 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

The main line of the Baghdad Railway from 
Mosul will pass through or near a number of interest- 
ing villages containing Assyrian remains, until it 
reaches the battlefield of Gaugamela, where 
Alexander the Great, on the ist of October 331 B.C., 
routed the armies of Darius and thereby obtained 
the dominion of all Asia. The modern Erbil or 
Arbela, 20 miles away, is situated on and around 
a large artificial mound about 150 feet high. This 
has never been excavated, as the Turks would brook 
no disturbance of their dignity and power, exempli- 
fied by the dirty castle that crowns the summit of 
the mound. 

The furious torrent of the Lower Zab is crossed 
at Alton Kupri, called the Golden Bridge, from the 
annual value of the toll collected by the Turks from 
all unfortunate travellers. The tourist of the future 
will forgo the pleasure of climbing the steep stone 
structure of the Ottomans, and over an ordinary 
British railway bridge will pass on to Kerkuk, where 
the most interesting sight can only be seen with a 
candle or torch. 

Just outside this Kurdish town of Kerkuk are 
a large hill and a small Christian cemetery. The 
sexton will guide a visitor through a small door, 
and, to his amazement, he will be able to wander 
through a labyrinth of catacombs, cells, and early 
Christian churches, where the Christians hid them- 
selves from the fury of the villainous Tamerlane. 

The ancient Nahrwan Canal is crossed on the 
way to Baghdad, and on the banks of the Tigris are 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 139 

the two important towns of Tikrit and Samarra. 
The former contains some ancient ruins, and was 
especially notable as the see of a Christian bishop ; 
but the latter is of great historical interest, in addi- 
tion to its sanctity as an important Moslem shrine. 
A great spiral tower is to be seen amongst the ruins 
of Eski Baghdad, for the son of Haroun 1 Raschid 
made Samarra his capital. A recent surveyor, 
Colonel Beazeley, R.E., declares that the ruins of 
an elaborate irrigation system have been revealed, 
and that the ancient city was 20 miles in length, 
2$ miles in width, and probably contained as many 
as four million people. 

The remains of the once powerful Babylonian 
city of Opis, associated with the campaigns of 
Alexander the Great and Xenophon, are hidden 
beneath the enormous Tel Manjur mounds in a 
great bend of the Tigris, half way between Baghdad 
and Samarra. The river formerly flowed to the 
west of Opis, which accounts for the tradition that 
places the city on the left bank of the Tigris. 

The great Nahrwan Canal can be traced from the 
Tigris north of Samarra to the Diala, and thence 
to the Tigris again at Kut 1 Amara. The greatest 
canal of Babylonia was the Shat 1 Nil, which ran 
from the north of Babylon through Niffer to the 
Shat 1 Hai near Nasiriyeh. It is identified with 
the '* river Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans," 
that for many centuries brought life and fertility to 
the plains of Lower Mesopotamia. 

The " City of the Khalifs " is one of the most 



140 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

interesting of Eastern cities, but it contains very 
few monuments of archaeological interest. There are 
many mounds around Baghdad, and traces of the 
city and palaces of Haroun 1 Raschid. Some of the 
older houses on the western side were built almost 
entirely of Nebuchadnezzar's bricks, evidently 
brought from Babylon. Whilst I was resident in 
the city a large earthenware jar, full of gold cufic 
coins, was dislodged by the oar of a boatman on 
the western bank of the Tigris. 

Near the Christian quarter there is a neglected 
ancient minaret erected in 1235 by the Khalif 
Mustansir, whose ruined college on the banks of the 
Tigris was transformed into the disorderly Turkish 
Custom House. On the western outskirts of the 
city is the tomb of Sitt-Zobeida, the wife of Haroun 
1 Raschid, and near by the well-preserved tomb of 
Sheikh Maaruf '1 Kerkhi, dating from a.d. 12 15. 

Eighteen miles south of Baghdad is the stately 
arch of Ctesiphon, the remains of the reception 
hall of the palace of Chosroes II. (a.d. 591-628), 
who was the last and the most remarkable monarch 
of the Persian Sassanian dynasty. The arch is 120 
feet high, 164 feet long, and 82 feet wide ; thousands 
of British troops were able to take shelter under 
its shadow from the heat of the sun when our 
forces were operating towards Baghdad. 

Aker Koof is the most curious of all the ruins 
in the country. It is situated about 18 miles 
west of Baghdad, near the ancient highroad to 
Felujah, and was mistaken for the Tower of Babel 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 141 

by English travellers in Elizabethan times. It 
was built by King Kurigalzu, who reigned in 
Babylonia about the time that Moses was leading 
the Children of Israel out of Egypt, and it represents 
the remains of a stage tower erected probably for 
the combined purpose of religious devotion and 
astronomical observation. The kernel of the original 
tower is a little over 100 feet high, and consists of 
sun-dried bricks with layers of reed matting about 
3 feet apart placed between every fifth or seventh 
layer of bricks. The well-made kiln-burnt bricks 
that formed the outer covering have disappeared, 
and fragments only are to be found at the foot of 
the tower. The ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia 
were far more cultured than the modern Arabs and 
Turks. They were evidently well skilled in the 
observation of the starry heavens, for polished lenses 
have been discovered, and inscriptions that indicate 
their acquaintance with the four moons of Jupiter. 
They named the twelve signs of the Zodiac, divided 
the equatorial into 360 degrees, with further divisions 
of 60 minutes and 60 seconds, and they gave us the 
system of dividing the days as marked on our 
present-day watches. 

Near Felujah, at the Euphrates end of the great 
Isa Canal, which ran through the Aker Koof depres- 
sion to the Tigris, there are the immense mounds 
of Sifaira and Ambar, flourishing cities, no doubt, 
when Felujah was for centuries the " Charing 
Cross " of the world's highways. 

North-west of Sifaira, on the banks of the 



142 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Euphrates, and due east of Damascus, is the well- 
known town of H1t, the Is, the Ahava, and the 
Ihi-da-Kira of earlier days, whence came the 
asphalt and the great paving-stones for Nebuchad- 
nezzar's processional road at Babylon. The quarries 
further north, at Anah, also produce a fine hard 
limestone exactly similar to the immense inscribed 
flags of Babel Street. There are some interesting 
ruins on the way to Deir-Zor, at Jabriyeh, SAli- 
hiyeh, and especially at Rahabah ; while north of 
Deir are Zenobia's ruins on the way to Sabkha, 
where British Mesopotamia touches the Shereefian 
boundary. 

South of Felujah the modern tourists' road to 
Babylon will certainly pass near the interesting 
mounds of Abu Habba, situated about four miles 
from the Euphrates and the same distance north 
of Mahmoudiyeh. They were discovered in 1881 
by Rassam, and found to contain the ruins of 
Sippara (850 B.C.). In addition to 60,000 tablets, 
Rassam brought to light the famous temple of 
Shamash (the sun-god), and two large barrel 
cylinders of Nabonidos which proved to be of the 
utmost historical importance. Nabonidos was a 
Babylonian archaeologist to whom historians are 
indebted for much chronological data. On these 
barrel cylinders he tells us that before he rebuilt 
the temple of Shamash his workmen were digging 
out the foundations of the earlier temple, and 
discovered the still olcfer foundation stone of Naram- 
Sin, the son of Sargon I., " which for 3200 years 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 143 

no previous king had ever seen." It was these 
cylinders that conveyed to us the startling informa- 
tion that Naram-Sin reigned in Babylon about 
3750 B.C. These extensive ruins have proved to 
be an inexhaustible mine for illicit Arab excavators, 
and they are the only mounds in Babylonia that 
were investigated by the Turks. In 1894 a small 
sum of money was provided by the Sultan Abd'l 
Hamid, and the work continued for two months 
under Bedry Bey, assisted by the French Assyri- 
ologist, Father Sheil. 

In the neighbourhood of Mahmoudiyeh there are 
numerous Babylonian mounds ; nearer to Babylon 
are the enormous ruins of Tel-Ibrahim ; exten- 
sive ruins also at El Karaina, 4 miles north of 
Babil ; groups of mounds also at Dilhim, 10 miles 
south of Hillah ; and a great red pyramid mound 
at El Ohaimir, 8 miles east of the Euphrates, 
found to contain the ruins of ancient Kish, which 
flourished in the days of Hammurabi. 

Babylon is the gem of all the ancient monuments 
in Mesopotamia. It is impossible to describe in a 
few words the results of half a century's excavations 
and research. The many bulky volumes that have 
been published for the edification of specialists 
may some day be condensed into a portable guide 
for the information of ordinary travellers and 
tourists. Five miles north of Hillah, the ruins of 
Babylon begin with the great mound of Babil, 
known to the Arabs as Mujellibeh, the site of a 
fortress and one of Nebuchadnezzar's palaces. A 



144 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

mile to the south is another set of smaller mounds 
called El-Kasr, where are the ruins of Nebuchad- 
nezzar's chief palace and the great processional 
road which leads to the Ishtar gate of Marduk's 
temple. The throne room of the palace measures 
170 feet by 60 feet, and the walls of the road to 
the temple were exquisitely adorned with enamelled 
tiles. At the excavated palace the traveller may 
now survey the very room in which Alexander 
the Great died. Possibly here also, or, as some 
suppose, at Tel-Amran, were the so-called "Hanging 
Gardens," that ranked amongst the seven wonders 
of the world, chiefly because they were laid out upon 
the roofs of an occupied building. At different 
stages in the great palace the vaulted roofs appar- 
ently supported an unusually deep layer of earth, 
in which the trees were planted. The air which 
passed through the well-watered vegetation no 
doubt became delightfully cool, and possibly the 
palace officials transacted their business in the cool 
chambers during the heat of the summer. 

It is a summer custom in Baghdad to hang a 
wide-meshed trellis-work stuffed with camel thorn 
over the doors and windows of all offices and living- 
rooms. This is constantly sprinkled with water, 
and the hot, dry wind which blows through the 
camel thorn causes rapid evaporation and appreci- 
ably cools the rooms, already somewhat darkened 
by the trellis- work, so that they are doubly protected 
from the intense glare and heat of a summer day 
in Mesopotamia. 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 145 

South of the Kasr is Tel-Amran, containing the 
temple of Esagila. Close by Amran there lies the 
rectangular ruin of E-temen-an-ki, the remains of 
a great ziggurat, believed to be the most probable 
site of the " Tower of Babel." Nabopolasar lays 
stress upon the height of this tower, which he 
restored and made " its foundations lie firm on 
the bosom of the underworld, while its top stretched 
heavenward." Nebuchadnezzar also records his 
attempt to " raise up the top of E-temen-an-ki that 
it may rival heaven." Alexander the Great laid it 
in ruins. Extensive remains of the city walls can be 
traced from the Shat 1 Nil near Babil in the north to 
the village of Jumjumah (Golgotha) in the south. 

Nine miles south of Hillah are the imposing ruins 
of Birs Nimrood, for a long time erroneously 
identified with the " Tower of Babel." It was 
built by Nebuchadnezzar as the temple of the Seven 
Spheres of Heaven and Earth, in the midst of the 
city of Borsippa, and the ruined wall on the top of the 
mound rises to a height of 153 feet from the level of the 
plain. The temple was dedicated to the god Nebo, 
" the Guardian of Heaven and Earth," and its seven 
stages were differently coloured. The lowest stage was 
black and covered with bitumen, representing Saturn. 
The 2nd stage was orange representing Jupiter. 



3rd 


f red , 


Mars. 


4th 


; golden 


the Sun. 


5th 


, whitish yellow , 


Venus. 


6th 


, blue , 


Mercury. 


7 th 


, silver-plated , 


the Moon 
10 



146 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

The sixth stage was artificially vitrified to obtain 
a blue tint, and the imperishable dark blue slag 
used so near the summit has helped to preserve 
this magnificent building for so many centuries. 

Almost as important as Babylon are the great 
mounds of Niffer (the Calneh of Gen. x. 10), 
which lie on the edge of the Affej marshes, and have 
been so admirably excavated in recent years by 
the University of Pennsylvania. Layard thought 
nothing was to be found here, but fifty years later 
Professor Hilprecht reported that more than 60,000 
cuneiform tablets had been excavated, a temple 
with its library had been located, and a large pre- 
Sargon gate had been discovered below the level 
of the desert. 

Mesopotamia has two distinct divisions. The 
southern portion, below the Median Wall, was known 
as Sumir, or the land of Shinar, and the northern 
portion was known as Accad. The traveller in the 
land of Shinar will meet with masses of extensive 
ruins on every hand. The smaller mounds are too 
numerous to mention. 

The largest set of ruins in the land of Shinar 
are to be found about 60 miles from Suk-esh- 
Shuyukh ; they belong to the period of 2700 B.C., 
and represent the relics of Warka, the Biblical 
Erech (Gen. x. 10). A large number of most 
interesting coffins were excavated from these 
mounds. It was found that they very quickly 
crumbled to fragments whilst being exhumed, 
until a method was adopted of pasting the coffins 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 147 

over with paper as soon as they were brought to 
light. They were then extracted whole and sent 
intact to the museums of Europe. At Senkere, 
not far from Warka, are two mounds which measure 
four miles in circumference, containing the remains 
of a temple and a stage tower of the Sun-god. 
Many of the tablets discovered here were wrapped 
in thin clay envelopes ; some triangular ones have 
holes at their corners, as if they had been used as 
labels and secured to some object. One of the 
tablets exhibits two men boxing 4000 years ago. 
These mounds contain the ruins of Larsam, the 
Ellasar of Gen. xiv. 1, one of the earliest and 
most famous of Babylonian cities. 

Tello has been called the Pompeii of Babylonian 
antiquity. It is situated eight miles north-east of 
Shatra and three miles south of the Shat '1 Hai. 
It is remarkable for the fine collection of dolerite 
sculptures excavated there, for the transformation 
of a Babylonian sanctuary into a Parthian palace, 
for the number of monuments discovered which 
are older than 3750 B.C., and for the 30,000 baked 
cuneiform tablets found in layers on shelves, re- 
presenting the archives of a temple. One of the 
Tello tablets described a certain King Dungi as 
the " King of Ur, King of the four quarters of the 
world." A Mesopotamian flood might well have 
been described by such a king or his historian as 
covering the four quarters of the world. 

The mound of Mugheir, which can be found 
seven miles south-west of Nasiriyeh, covers the 



148 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

remains of Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. xi. 28 and 
xv. 7). The ruins are estimated to belong to the 
period of about 2700 B.C. The name of Belshazzar, 
King of Babylon, was found upon one of the exca- 
vated inscriptions. 

Some particularly interesting records have been 
unearthed at Abu Shahrain, better known as the 
Eridu (the Blessed City) of ancient history. The 
foundations of a temple dedicated to Ea, father 
of Merodach, were found here by Mr W. Taylor in 
1850. It is stated to have been a seaport 7000 
years ago, and the mounds represent the site of 
the most ancient city in Chaldea. The ruins were 
investigated during the war by Captain Thompson, 
with highly important results. Neolithic remains 
have been discovered, and the primitive buff pottery 
of wheel-turned clay is said to resemble the pottery 
found in the last stratum of the ruins of Susa. 
This seems to indicate that the two cities were 
peopled by men of the same character in pre- 
historic times, and subsequent investigation may 
lead to more definite opinions about the probable 
site of the Garden of Eden. 

Under the auspices of the British Museum, 
systematic excavations were continued at Eridu 
and Ur in 1919 with encouraging results. The 
great outer wall of a temple (2400 B.C.) was un- 
covered at Ur. It is 38 feet thick, and contains 
chambers in the thickness of the wall. 

Another prehistoric site was also discovered 
by the same excavator, Mr Hall, at Tel-Obeid, 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 149 

about four miles west of Ur, where some of the 
earliest relics of the Sumerian age (3000 B.C.) have 
been brought to light, and life-size heads of lions 
made of copper, with eyes, tongues, and teeth of 
red, white, and black stone ; clay pillars with 
tesselated designs in triangles and squares of red 
and black stone and mother-of-pearl set in bitumen. 

The British people have had more to do with 
excavating the ancient monuments in Mesopotamia 
than any other nation, but they were ably supported 
by the French, and in more recent years the Germans 
and the Americans have done remarkable work by 
excavating the mounds in a thoroughly scientific 
way. 

The East India Company initiated the interest 
of the British public in the ruins of Babylon, and 
ordered their Resident at Basra to send specimens 
of the bricks to London. 

The first real explorer of Babylon and Nineveh 
was Claudius J. Rich, British Resident for the 
East India Company at Baghdad, who died of 
cholera at Shiraz in 182 1. He was followed by 
such well-known men as Ker Porter, Fraser, Chesney, 
Rawlinson, Layard, George Smith, Rassam, and 
King. The French began operations at Khorsabad 
under Botta in 1842, and at Tello under De Sarzec 
in 1877. 

The German scholars only began in 1886 to work 
at Surghul and El-Hibba, not far from Tello ; but 
under Koldewey in 1899 they started upon the 
ruins of Babylon, and in a thoroughly efficient 



150 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

manner brought to light the greater part of the 
city of Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.). 

In 1888 the Americans came to Niffer, where 
they courageously worked with remarkable success, 
though with occasional interruptions, until the out- 
break of war. 

The condition of Mesopotamia under the Turkish 
regime during the last half-century made the 
work of these scientific men extremely difficult 
and dangerous. I had the privilege of visiting 
most of the excavations, and realised how great 
were the trials and disappointments as well as the 
triumphs of those whose self-denying labours have 
so greatly enriched our knowledge of the past. 
When Botta was excavating at Khorsabad he 
brought a number of beams at considerable expense, 
and used them as supports for the walls of the 
excavated buildings. The villagers, with an in- 
grained love of pilfering, pillaged the wood, and 
the ancient buildings were destroyed. The Turkish 
governor believed Botta was searching for gold, so 
set watchmen to seize it, and threw Botta's work- 
men into prison when it was not forthcoming. 
Annoyed at his failure to secure the anticipated 
gilded treasures, he closed down the excavations 
and reported to Constantinople that Botta was 
establishing a military stronghold for the purpose 
of taking the country by force of arms and pro- 
claiming himself Sultan. 

A large part of the antiquities at Khorsabad 
with sixty-eight cases of the finest bas-reliefs from 



ANCIENT MONUMENTS 151 

Asshur-banipal's palace at Kuyunjik, were lost by 
the sinking of two rafts in the Tigris. Also all 
the collections excavated and purchased by Oppert 
at Babylon, including a valuable marble vase of 
Naram-Sin (3750 B.C.), were sunk in the Tigris not 
far from Kurna, while on their way to Basra. 

The American excavators had serious trouble 
at Niffer. On one occasion the Arabs set fire to the 
encampment, half the horses were burnt to death, 
and 1000 dollars fell into the hands of the plunderers. 
The excavations were abandoned for a time, though 
the workers were fortunately able to save all their 
antiquities. 

This superficial survey of the ruined monuments 
of antiquity to be found in Mesopotamia will 
suffice to show that the country is replete with 
treasures of peculiar interest and unique value to 
travellers and tourists as well as to archaeologists 
and historians. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE SACRED SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 

I have heard it stated that in Mesopotamia there 
are more sects, more gates to heaven, and more 
roads to hell than in the United States of America. 
Every Moslem " Mathhab " is represented here, 
every variety of Jewish belief, more than a dozen 
different Christian sects ; and besides the Sufis and 
Babis from Persia, there are the Sabeans and 
Yezidees, in whose religious opinions one finds 
Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, 
Gnosticism, Star-worship, and Ornithomancy all 
jumbled together in glorious confusion. A pil- 
grimage to any of the sacred shrines is a sure pass- 
port to Paradise ; none know the nether world 
better than the Yezidees, and the Sabean theology 
abounds with hells and innumerable demonic rulers. 
The Hebrew race derived its origin from Meso- 
potamia when Abraham crossed the Euphrates and 
settled in the land of Canaan. There are probably 
nearly 80,000 Arabic-speaking Jews living to-day 
in the towns and villages of the land that is of special 
interest to the Jewish race, not only because it is 

x 5* 




U 








s 












a 


rn 


03 


>o 






g 




o 


<u 




fc/ 


Ti 


03 


u 


a 



M 2 
5 o 

N U 

w s 
3 2 

ja e 

Spq 

* s 

05 O 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 153 

their Patriarch's native land, but also on account 
of the long years which the Hebrews spent in this 
country during the Babylonian captivity. There 
are three sacred places constantly visited by Jewish 
pilgrims. The most important is Ezra's Tomb, 
with its picturesque turquoise dome, situated on 
the banks of the Tigris not far from the " Garden 
of Eden." The Talmud records a legend that Ezra 
was on his way from Jerusalem to the Persian 
capital in order to secure a further release of 
Hebrew captives when he died at Zamzuma, a 
town on the Tigris, where every Jewish pilgrim 
devoutly believes he was buried, and not in 
Jerusalem, as suggested by Josephus. 

Another sacred site of no less sanctity is the 
tomb of Joshua the High Priest, situated on the 
outskirts of Baghdad. Twenty years ago the 
Moslems of the vicinity wrested the tomb from the 
Jewish guardians while the Turkish authorities 
looked on complacently, until the English manager 
of Sir David Sassoon's firm made representations 
to our consular authorities and eventually secured 
the restoration of the tomb to its rightful owners. 

The third important site revered by the Jews of 
Mesopotamia is the tomb of Ezekiel, situated on 
an inlet from the Hindiah Canal, not far from the 
Euphrates and Babylon. By the side of a pictur- 
esque village named Kefil there is a little Jewish 
colony settled as guardians of the tomb, living 
on the friendliest terms with the Moslem villagers, 
who regard them, however, with considerable 



154 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

contempt. On my last visit to Kefil I was able to 
purchase ten eggs for a penny, a fowl for fivepence, 
and a brace of partridges for sevenpence. 

After the occupation of the " Garden of Eden " 
the British forces proceeded beyond Ezra's tomb 
to the capture of an important city on the river 
Tigris, by the name of Amara. This is now a very 
flourishing place, and contains the headquarters 
of an interesting sect known as the Sabeans, or 
Star-worshippers, whose religious ideas probably 
have a Babylonian origin. 

There are many small sects of this kind in 
different parts of Turkey, such as the Yezidees, 
Shabakahs, and Be j wans, near Nineveh, the Kizil- 
bashis of Asia Minor, and the secret sects of Syria. 
Besides speaking Arabic, which is the common 
language of the whole of Mesopotamia, these Star- 
worshippers have a household language of their own 
that is also the language of their sacred books and 
is called Mandaitic. This is very closely allied to 
the Syriac spoken by the Christian villagers to the 
north of Mosul. They never intermarry with 
strangers, and, like the Druzes, they never accept a 
proselyte to their faith nor have any permanent 
place of worship. They are a peaceful and indus- 
trious people, occupied with raising the finest 
dairy produce of Mesopotamia, with building 
light canoes, and especially are they famous as 
silversmiths, working a beautiful inlaid work with 
black metal upon silver or gold ornaments. They 
possess a remarkably fine physique, and with their 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 155 

long dark beards the Sabean men are typical of 
what we imagine the ancient patriarchs were like 
who came from the country which is now the home 
of these Sabeans. It is said that they turn to the 
North Star whenever they pray, and that they go 
through some form of baptism every Sunday. 
Their greatest festival takes place on the last day 
of every year, and is known as the Day of Renun- 
ciation. They hold a sort of watchnight service 
of the eve of the New Year, and present a solemn 
sacrifice to the Judge of the Underworld, which 
seems to indicate that in earlier times they were 
somewhat allied to the Yezidees in the north of 
Mesopotamia. Each of these Sabeans possesses 
a special white robe with which the Star- worshipper 
clothes himself upon emerging from the waters at 
their ceremonial baptisms. This garment is care- 
fully preserved as a peculiarly sacred one, and is 
used at the burial of the owner, who believes that 
he will appear in the garment when he comes up 
for judgment before the Prince of the Nether World. 
At the annual festival on New Year's Eve the 
Sabeans erect a mud altar in their temporary tent, 
where small cakes are prepared from barley meal 
and the oil of sesame seed. The cakes are baked 
in the oven by the side of the altar ; a pigeon is slain, 
and four drops of its blood are carefully placed 
upon each cake, so as to form the sacred Cross. 
Then, while their sacred book is being read, the 
cakes are carried round to the assembled company 
by the principal priests, who place one of these 



156 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

cakes in the mouth of each worshipper. The dead 
pigeon is then buried behind the altar inside their 
temporary tabernacle. This is a sort of annual 
communion service with the Sabeans, and always 
takes place on the banks of the Tigris near Amara. 

The Sabeans possess a mass of sacred literature. 
Their chief book is a large volume divided into two 
parts ; the reading matter begins at both ends and 
finishes in the middle ; that is to say, the reader 
can begin at one end of the book, and then when he 
reaches the middle he turns the book upside down 
and begins at the other end. They believe that 
Mohammed was the last of the false prophets, and 
they state that at the time of the Abbaside dynasty 
there were four hundred centres of Sabean worship 
in Mesopotamia. The High Priest of the Sabeans 
was imprisoned a few years ago at Basra on a charge 
of attempting to foment a rebellion of the Arab 
tribes against the Turks. 

They gave a very hearty welcome to the British 
troops on their arrival at Amara. They were then 
kept busy supplying their wares to British officers 
and men, who hastened to purchase specimens of 
their wonderful silver-work. There is little doubt 
that in more peaceful times they will develop into 
a flourishing community, and possibly expand once 
more into every town and district of Mesopotamia. 

Another interesting set of people, allied to the 
Sabeans, are the Yezidees or " Devil- worshippers." 
They inhabit a number of unkempt villages near 
Mosul and in the Sin jar Mountains. They seem 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 157 

to belong to a Kurdish stock, and speak Kurdish as 
well as Arabic. There are probably some forty 
thousand Yezidees in Mesopotamia and six thou- 
sand in the Caucasus. Their headquarters are at 
Sheikh Adi, a weird place north-east of ancient 
Nineveh. They have many excellent character- 
istics, though they are profoundly ignorant and 
superstitious. They are a sturdy race, hard- 
working, brave, peaceful, hospitable, good- 
humoured, and always more friendly to Christians 
and Jews than to Moslems. The Turks have 
frequently treated them very badly, and in 1892 
attempted to exterminate them. Omar Pasha, the 
Governor of Mosul, invited the chiefs to a dinner 
and a conference. While feasting as the guests of 
the Governor, a signal was given and the whole 
of the seventy chiefs were brutally murdered by 
Turkish troops. It is hardly correct to call the 
Yezidees " Devil- worshippers," for they all believe 
in a great God who created the universe ; but they 
pay deference to the " Prince of this World," lest 
they should suffer from his vengeance. They avoid 
the use of words that begin with the same letter as 
Satan's name, and instead of using the common 
Arabic words for the devil they speak of him as 4he 
" Prince of Darkness," " Lord of the Evening," or 
the " Exalted Chief." Many of the Yezidees 
practise baptisms ; they make the sign of the cross, 
and kiss the threshold of Christian churches. 
They adore the rising sun, and kiss the first rays 
of light that strike their dwellings. They will not 



158 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

blow out a candle with their breath, or spit on fire. 
They observe a sacrificial festival allied to the 
Jewish Passover. 

There is not a single sect amongst the Moslems 
whose faith and practice is based solely upon the 
Koran, the text of which is supposed to be so 
sacred that only the Companions of Mohammed are 
considered capable of being commentators upon it. 
Therefore the chief work committed to Moslem 
theologians is to learn the Holy Book by heart, to 
become masters of the traditions and familiar with 
the early commentators. It was found necessary 
to systematise all the traditions and judgments 
given by the Khalifs and Mujtahidin. This brought 
about the four systems of jurisprudence founded by 
the four Imams : (i) Abu Hanifa, (2) Ibn Malik, 
(3) As-Shafi, (4) Ibn Hanbal. These were all re- 
garded as Mujtahidin of the highest rank, and the 
Sunnis consider that there has been no true 
Mujtahid since them. The followers of these four 
men represent the four orthodox sects of Islam, 
to one or other of which all Moslems except the 
Shiahs belong, and which are all represented in the 
city of Baghdad. 

The first Imam was born at Basra in a.d. 699. 
He spent the greater part of his life at Kufa, and 
died at Baghdad a.d. 767. The magnificent 
mosque at Muadham contains the tomb of this 
famous first Imam. 

The second Imam, Ibn Malik (a.d. 713-795), 
spent the whole of his life in Medina. The third 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 159 

Imam, As-Shafi, was born in Mecca ; he came twice to 
Baghdad, in a.d. 810 and again in 813, and died at 
Cairo a.d. 820. Ibn Hanbal, the last great orthodox 
Imam, was born at Baghdad a.d. 780, where he 
lived during the reign of the Khalif Mamoun and 
was buried at Muadham, but the river has carried 
away his tomb. His system has practically ceased 
to exist. There is no Mufti of the sect in the city 
of Mecca, although the other three are still repre- 
sented there. 

The most famous tomb in Baghdad is that of 
Sheikh Abdl ul Kadir (a.d. 1252), who was known 
as the great commentator on the Koran. Many 
thousands of pilgrims come to Mesopotamia from 
different parts of the Mohammedan world to visit 
his tomb, but he is a particular favourite with the 
inhabitants of Morocco. A story is told of how the 
Sheikh delivered a course of sermons in Baghdad 
upon the Koran. He began by explaining the 
meaning of the dot which comes under the first 
letter of the Holy Book. He had lectured on this 
dot for nearly three months, when one night the 
Angel Gabriel appeared to him and informed him 
that all he had been saying about the dot was 
perfectly correct, but it was not what God meant 
when He put the dot under the " B " in the first 
letter of the Koran. 

There are many other sacred tombs in the neigh- 
bourhood of Baghdad. One striking one is known 
as the Tomb of Sheikh Maaruf el Kerkhi (12 15), not 
far from the shrine of the Bektash dervishes. He 



160 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

was the leader of a flourishing sect, and innumerable 
graves surround his tomb ; for, in accordance with 
Arab custom and belief, the people try to get buried 
near the grave of some great man who is able, they 
hope, to lead and guide them through the unknown 
regions after death. 

Three miles from Baghdad is the sacred Shiah 
city of Kasmain. In the large mosque are the 
tombs of the seventh and ninth Shiah Imams, 
namely, Mousa Kasim and Mohammed Taki, 
grandfather and grandson. The son of the former 
is buried at Meshed, in Persia. Samarra, seventy 
miles north of Baghdad, is equally important to 
the Shiahs, but it also has a special interest for all 
the other sects of Islam. In its Great Mosque 
is enshrined the crevice from which the twelfth 
Imam, El Mahdi, is said to have disappeared, to 
come again, according to the belief of most Moslems, 
with Christ at the end of the world. 

Salman Pak, eighteen miles south of Baghdad, is 
a place of Moslem pilgrimage close by the great 
arch of Ctesiphon. It is reputed to contain the 
bones of Mohammed's private barber, who now 
performs miracles of healing for the devotees at his 
shrine. 

There is a considerable amount of saint-worship 
amongst the Moslem inhabitants of Mesopotamia, 
and numbers of shrines have been erected along 
many of the pilgrim roads. A story was told 
me concerning a very well-built tomb which was 
guarded and cared for by a pious Arab. In accord- 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 161 

ance with their customs, the pilgrims entered a little 
room and prayed to the saint who was buried there, 
presenting the guardian with a coin that he might 
also intercede with God and the saint on their be- 
half. The guardian kept a servant and a fine white 
donkey, which he presented to his faithful servant 
when he had made his fortune and retired from 
business. Four years afterwards the old man was 
going along an unfrequented pilgrim road, and in an 
isolated spot he saw a small tomb. Curiosity led 
him to enter the tomb, where he found his servant 
in charge. The old man demanded to know who 
it was that was buried here. The servant replied : 
" Don't be angry with me, master. I was coming 
along this road with the fine white donkey which 
you gave me, when something happened and the 
donkey died. I did not know what I should do to 
get my living without the aid of my beloved donkey. 
I dug a big hole and buried him, and whilst I was 
covering up the grave and weeping at my loss, some 
pilgrims came by and thought I was burying a saint, 
so without asking questions they put some money 
into my hand. This put a thought into my head. 
I brought some stones and built a little tomb. The 
people have been very good to me, and I have always 
prayed for their welfare ; but you must not be angry 
with me, master : it is the beloved old donkey that 
is buried here." The master chuckled to himself 
and walked up and down for a few minutes. He 
then returned to his servant and said : "It is a 
remarkable coincidence ; how did you come to 

ii 



162 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

think of it ? Did I ever tell you who was buried in 
my tomb ? " The servant replied he always sus- 
pected that it was some great personage, but the 
master had not told him who it was. " Well," 
said the master, " I really must tell you, but you 
must never mention it, for it was the mother of that 
donkey which was buried there " ! 

The story of the rise of the great Shiah sect is 
briefly as follows : In the days of the Prophet 
Mohammed the leader of the Koreish tribe in Mecca 
was Abu Sofyan, who opposed the Prophet and was 
excluded from the amnesty granted to his foes when 
Mohammed took possession of Mecca. Two parties 
became recognised in the Holy City. One repre- 
sented Mohammed's closest friends from Medina, 
and the other represented the sympathisers with 
the Koreish family at Mecca. The third Khalif, 
Osman by name, was a member of this family, and 
upon his succession his followers were given 
positions of influence. His opponents succeeded 
in assassinating him, and proclaimed Ali, the 
cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed, to be the 
Khalif of Islam. Muawiyeh, the son of Abu Sofyan, 
was the Governor of Syria. He denounced Ali 
as a murderer. A battle took place, in which Ali's 
forces were defeated. Many of his followers seceded, 
and Ali was subsequently assassinated by one of 
these in the town of Kufa. Tradition declares 
that his body was placed upon a bier and carried 
by men out of the city, without any instructions as 
to where the Khalif was to be buried. They were 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 163 

directed by the Almighty God, and after walking 
for about four miles with a great crowd of mourners 
behind them they suddenly found it impossible to 
go farther, and were evidently stopped by the inter- 
vention of the angels. It was concluded that this 
was the place where Ali was to be buried, and the 
city which has grown up around his gorgeous, 
golden-domed tomb is regarded by the Shiahs as 
the most sacred place on earth. Around this large 
walled city of Nejif, or Meshed Ali, there are great 
cemeteries where hundreds of thousands of Shiah 
Mohammedans have been buried. Thousands of 
corpses are brought every year to be buried in this 
sacred soil. 

After the death of Ali, Hasan, his eldest son, 
renounced his claim to the Khalifate, and was 
subsequently poisoned. Yazid succeeded his father, 
Muawiyeh. He was hated by most of the Moslems, 
and especially by the men of Kufa, which was the 
centre of religious fanatics, the home of the doctors 
of the law and some specially powerful theologians. 
They invited Hosein, another son of Ali, to take 
away the Khalifate from the house of Umaiyeh. 
Hosein responded to their invitation and started 
for Kufa. Yazid sent the Governor of Basra to 
fight against him with a force of 3000 men. The 
treacherous fanatics of Kufa gave Hosein no assist- 
ance, and his brave escort of forty horsemen and 
one hundred foot-soldiers fell, one by one, until all 
were killed and Hosein was left alone with his little 
child. The scene was a strange one, and the tragic 



164 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

death of Hosein is commemorated every year on the 
ioth day of Moharrem in the great Shiah Passion 
Play. Hosein was seated upon the ground with his 
infant son running round him and all his followers 
lying dead close by. His enemies were longing for 
his blood, but were afraid to touch the grandson of 
the prophet Mohammed. Hosein took the little 
lad into his arms, when a chance arrow pierced the 
child's ear and it died at once. He placed the corpse 
on the ground, saying, " We have come from God 
and we return to Him. O God, give me strength 
to bear these misfortunes." He went to the 
Euphrates, which flowed close by, and as he stooped 
to drink an arrow struck him in the mouth. His 
enemies were now emboldened to rush upon him, 
and they speedily put an end to his life (a.d. 680). 
The plain of Kerbela, where Hosein was killed, has 
become as sacred as the city of Nejif, and the city 
of Kerbela is more honoured than Mecca as a place 
of pilgrimage for the Shiah Mohammedans. 

The whole of the different branches of the Shiah 
sect refuse to recognise any but Ali as the true 
successor to Mohammed, the only rightful Khalif 
of Islam. 

The chief industry of Kerbela is the manufacture 
of " torbas." These are small pieces of baked 
clay, generally about two or three inches long, and 
of various shapes. They bear upon them the 
names of Ali and Fatima. They are made of the 
holy soil from around the cities of Kerbela and 
Nejif. They are purchased by the pilgrims and 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 165 

reverently carried home, to be subsequently used 
on every occasion when prayer is offered. The 
" torbas " are placed upon the ground, and the 
forehead, in prayer, is brought down until it touches 
the sacred clay. 

Some Englishmen have declared that the Turk, 
though a bad administrator, is not a brutal tyrant, 
at any rate not in his dealings with Mohammedans, 
and that therefore in Mesopotamia the Arabs still 
love the Turk more than their new masters. The 
facts, however, go to prove the contrary. Take, 
for example, what has happened at Kerbela, the 
most sacred Moslem city in the country. In 1854, 
while the Boundary Commissioners were assembled 
in Erzeroom, a despatch announced the massacre 
of 22,000 Shiahs by the Turks in Kerbela. In 
April 1 9 16 a Turkish force attacked Kerbela, and 
bombarded the sacred mosques of Hosein and 
Abbas ; but the inhabitants defended the city and 
compelled the Turks to retire. Shortly afterwards 
another expedition arrived, and the commander 
pleaded he only wanted permission for the troops 
to pass through the town, as he intended to defend 
it from the approaching enemy. The chiefs, who 
knew the smooth-tongued Turk better than most 
Europeans, refused, as Kerbela, they pointed out, did 
not lie on the road to Kut. The commander 
turned to the chiefs of Hillah with the same 
request. These so-called " lovers of the Turk " 
five times refused a passage through their town, 
and the revictualling of the Turkish troops. The 



166 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

commander at last took a copy of the Koran and 
wrote upon it : " The Book of God introduces us to 
you. It binds us to you and yours with a solemn 
promise which we have made before God and His 
Prophet. We bear you no ill-will, we will do you 
no harm ; your possessions, your women, and your 
honour will be safe ; we only ask for a free passage 
and food for our troops." The Turks have always 
played upon the fervent religious fanaticism of 
their Moslem subjects, and once again, after these 
solemn declarations, the religious appeal was 
successful. The troops were admitted ; they at 
once took possession of the town defences, and then 
invited the chiefs to a conference with the com- 
mander. They came, and were of course arrested 
and imprisoned. The following day fifteen Arab 
notables and chiefs were hanged, in flagrant defiance 
of the sacred promise sworn on the Koran a few 
days before. That night the exasperated inhabit- 
ants attacked the Turkish troops, who at once 
retaliated, and in a few hours nearly half the city 
was reduced to ashes by the Turkish artillery. 

The Moslem soldiers suffered as much as the 
civilian population. On my way to a city in Asia 
Minor some years ago, I arrived at a caravanserai 
just before sunset, and saw a company of miserable 
soldiers coming to the place, riding on small 
donkeys. They were terribly ill, suffering from 
fever and unable to walk. From their lips I learned 
that their regiment had been stricken by an out- 
break of typhus and typhoid ; most of their 



SHRINES AND RELIGIOUS SECTS 167 

companions had died in the barracks, and they were 
at last sent off to their homes, six days' journey 
away, with only a few pence in their pockets, and 
these small donkeys as their only means of con- 
veyance. The following day the rain came down 
in torrents, but the officers in charge of the group 
urged them forward, and for eight hours these 
miserable Moslem soldiers were driven through 
torrents of rain, with the result that most of them 
died before they reached their homes. 

The treacherous Turk can play the Pious Piper 
before the far-away Moslems of India as cleverly as 
he acts the penitent thief before his European 
sympathisers ; but unless we are prepared to ignore 
the facts of his history we must agree with thousands 
of Indian Moslem soldiers who saw the Turk in 
Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor, that he is not 
a pious Moslem, and that even to his troops and to 
his Moslem subjects he has too often acted as a 
brutal tyrant. 



CHAPTER X 

THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 

Kurdistan is more mountainous and more pic- 
turesque than the wildest highlands of Scotland, 
and it may some day prove to be as indispensable 
to the city of Baghdad as are the Highlands of 
our Isles to the metropolis of our Empire. These 
wild, rugged regions lie to the north and north-east 
of Mesopotamia, and are inhabited by two distinct 
classes of Kurds, as well as by four different 
Christian communities. There are the settled 
Kurdish pillagers and townsfolk, who have little 
sympathy with the roving robber tribesmen of 
the same race ; but their migration into the districts 
of Armenia has created a problem that will be 
difficult to solve. 

In addition to the Armenians, there are three 
other Christian communities scattered about 
amongst the mountains of Kurdistan. They are 
known as (i) the Assyrians, Nestorians, or Eastern 
Syrians, (2) the Jacobites or Western Syrians, and (3) 
the Chaldeans. These all speak Syriac of different 
dialects, and most of them are acquainted with 

168 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 169 

Arabic and Kurdish. They are descended from 
the same original stock, and are distinguished 
chiefly by questions of theology. The Assyrians 
acknowledge the leadership of the patriarch Mar 
Shimoon, who resided at Kochanes, in the mountains. 
The Jacobite patriarch lives at a monastery near 
Mar din ; while the Chaldeans represent those 
Assyrians who have become united to the Church 
of Rome under the headship of a Chaldean patriarch 
who resides at Mosul. The Chaldean and the Syrian 
Catholic community have always been under the 
protection of France, which is the main reason why 
the French claimed mandatory powers for the city 
of Mosul. 

The Kurds for the most part are destitute of 
religious beliefs, but as nominal Mohammedans 
they were permitted to be armed by the Turks, who, 
finding it impossible to subdue them, caused them 
to be enrolled as irregular cavalry, and practically 
confided to them the duty of robbing and enslaving 
their Christian neighbours. There was a time, 
however, within the memory of the present genera- 
tion, when the Kurd had a better reputation than 
he has to-day, when he would, for example, scorn 
to injure the women- folk of a tribe or community 
with which he was at war. The Turks, however, 
are responsible for lending their aid to the most 
vicious of the Kurdish chieftains, and for bestow- 
ing their patronage upon those who fostered the 
demoralised standards for which the Kurds are now 
so famous. 



170 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

They are supposed to be descended from the 
ancient Carduchi, who harassed the 10,000 Greeks 
that were led by Xenophon through the borders of 
Kurdistan. An Assyrian inscription, discovered at 
Nineveh, informs us that at the time of a great 
deluge a ship or ark rested upon the u mountain of 
Nizir," which is identified with a place near 
Rowanduz, whose Kurdish inhabitants earnestly 
petitioned the British military authorities to 
include them within the British mandatory sphere 
of Mesopotamia. Sir Henry Rawlinson suggested 
it was from these mountains that the white races 
came, called in Genesis " the sons of God," who in 
the land of Shinar intermarried with the darker 
" daughters of men/' 

In some of my journeys through the mountains 
I was much impressed by the physical character- 
istics of the Kurdish and Christian villagers. Both 
are frequently blue-eyed, of fairer complexion 
than the dwellers in Mesopotamia ; they have some- 
what European features, and are as strong and as 
sturdy as the Highlanders of Scotland ; but the 
Kurds are generally vicious, heartless, cruel, and 
cowardly to the last degree. 

I have met some Kurds, however, who are 
inclined to live peaceably with their neighbours, 
who have even protected the Christian villagers, 
at times, from the robber tribesmen ; and some of 
the best, as well as some of the worst, Turkish 
officials have hailed from Kurdistan. It was a 
common saying in the cities of the Tigris that the 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 171 

Kurds were always in the way. They would either 
be found as robber bands blocking the mountain 
path, or as porters they could be seen blocking the 
streets of the big cities. In a land where cranes 
and trollies are unknown, these powerful moun- 
taineers were able to negotiate the heaviest bales 
of merchandise. Occasionally one of them would 
be seen creeping through the busy bazaars with a 
piano or a wardrobe on his back. The brown felt 
pudding-basin hat readily distinguishes the Kurd 
from the other races of Mesopotamia. 

All the seamen upon the river steamers, as well 
as most of the servants in the houses of Europeans, 
come from the Christian villages of Kurdistan. 
They are of similar physique, and as warlike as 
the Kurds, but they are better educated, and there 
is no doubt that they would have been able to hold 
their own in these mountains if they had been 
placed, by the Turkish Government, upon an equal 
footing with the Kurds. Those who are acquainted 
with the country and the people are convinced that 
the problems of Kurdistan will in due time dis- 
appear with the removal of the Turk, who has so 
long blighted the land and its inhabitants. If only 
the criminal classes had been lawfully punished and 
equal justice administered to all Turkish subjects, 
there would have been no massacres and no such 
serious problems as now confront the Allies in the 
settlement of the Caucasus and Kurdistan. 

These Turkish-trained ruffians gave us an im- 
mense amount of trouble on the Persian frontier 



172 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

and in the Mosul vilayet ; they imagined they 
could murder political officers with impunity, and 
military officers mysteriously disappeared from 
some of the rest camps. They were protected, 
to some extent, from punitive expeditions by the 
inaccessibility of their mountain homesteads along 
the Turko-Persian frontier, whence they would 
suddenly emerge to raid their Christian neighbours, 
or prey upon the peaceful Moslem merchants of 
Persia. They waylaid every Moslem pilgrim and 
spoiled the merchants who tried to make use of the 
ancient highways that lead from Mesopotamia to 
Persia and India. We could not avoid facing the 
problems of Southern Kurdistan, for the Kurds 
would not mind their own business and persist- 
ently interfered with ours. They harassed every 
convoy, raided our lines of communication, cap- 
tured several cars on their way to the Caspian Sea, 
murdered the occupants, and committed so many 
atrocities that suitable escorts had to be sent with 
every motor lorry travelling along the road to 
Hamadan. 

It will not be necessary, as some suppose, to 
maintain perpetually a large army in Northern 
Mesopotamia for the purpose of keeping order. 
The small punitive expeditions that were under- 
taken by Indian troops, Assyrian volunteers, with 
mountain batteries, proved equal to the task of 
subduing some of the worst of the Kurdish tribes 
in the most inaccessible regions of Southern 
Kurdistan. The country is not so difficult as the 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 173 

mountainous regions beyond the frontiers of India, 
and though there is plenty of racial bitterness, there 
is practically no religious fanaticism ; for the Kurds 
are robbers and murderers pure and simple, and the 
secret of all success must lie in the establishment of 
British prestige. This cannot be done in a moment, 
but, when once it is accomplished, the Kurdish 
chieftains will hesitate to break their agreements, 
for their innate selfishness will suffice to restrain 
them from unprofitable raids. They will discover 
there is greater gain in living peaceably with their 
new neighbours, who will also be in a better position 
than the Armenians to punish them for their un- 
speakable crimes. 

Some years before the war British merchants in 
Baghdad complained that their trade with Persia 
had come almost to a standstill. The Germans had 
something to do with this, for they were under- 
mining our prestige ; but the Kurds were responsible 
for preventing the passage of British goods along 
the roads to Persia, and for making havoc of the 
once flourishing border towns. Persia is now 
recovering from anarchy, famine, and the effects 
of the war. She offers unique prospects to European 
merchants, but her trade would be stopped, her 
treasury would be empty, and her independence 
would be imperilled if the Kurds were permitted to 
continue to ravage her borders. 

Some very important roads from Persia to Europe 
lie through Kurdistan, and the rapidity of Persia's 
recovery, as well as the value of Persia's minerals, 



174 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

must largely depend upon the opening up of secure 
communication with Europe and the Mediterranean 
ports. We cannot shirk the problems of Kurdistan ; 
there is no alternative, we are bound to face them ; 
our own security and the world's peace depend upon 
a satisfactory settlement of the whole of the former 
Turkish Empire. 

There is an immense amount of mineral wealth 
in Kurdistan and the plateaux of Armenia ; some 
of the finest tobacco is grown here, though the timber 
of Kurdistan is scarce and said to be worth its weight 
in gold. Some years ago the Turks prohibited me 
from purchasing a small house in a salubrious 
Assyrian Christian village. I wanted to make use of 
it as a holiday resort for our workers in Mesopotamia, 
but the Government objected to an Englishman 
owning property in a Christian village. With 
the settlement of Kurdistan and the construction 
of roads and railways, there is little doubt that 
the British will find many a " white man's corner " 
in these beautiful mountains, and a place like 
Rowanduz will become an ideal summer refuge from 
the scorching plains of the south. I fully anticipate 
that amongst these mountains there will some day 
be established the summer headquarters of the 
Mesopotamian Government, to serve the same 
purpose for Baghdad that Simla has served for 
Calcutta. 

Though I have not had the privilege of penetrat- 
ing far into Kurdistan, I have frequently travelled 
through the borders of the country, and have had 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 175 

some exciting experiences with the Kurds of 
Jezireh and the villagers to the north of Nisibin. 

On the 17th of April 1901 1 started upon a journey 
to the east of Mosul. My catechist and servants left 
two hours before me, whilst I was obtaining letters 
of introduction to some of the leading villagers. 
As soon as I was ready I mounted my bicycle and 
quickly caught them up. The village of Neby 
Yunis is the first place of interest one passes imme- 
diately after crossing the Mosul bridge. On the 
north side of the road is the famous mound of 
Kuyunjik, and beyond it are innumerable other 
mounds that cover the ruins of ancient Nineveh. 
After winding in and out amongst the ruins, I 
suddenly turned a corner and came upon a company 
of horsemen. Three Turkish officials, mounted on 
high-spirited Arab mares, led the procession, with 
some Arab notables following in single file. The 
leading horse bowed its acknowledgment to the 
superiority of my iron steed, bolted up the bank, 
and left its rider rolling in the dust. The second 
and third did likewise as they came in sight of my 
bicycle. I stopped to apologise, and the mishap 
proved to be a pleasant introduction to my wonder- 
ing friends. 

I quickly reached the Christian village of Bartolli, 
where all the inhabitants turned out to see me. 
They swarmed upon the hillock of stable refuse 
outside the village to gaze at my iron horse, with 
many exclamations of wonder, while the children 
ran around me screaming and yelling their delight. 



176 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Most of these villagers were Syrian Jacobites, and 
all very poor as a result of long years of Turkish 
exactions. The head man hospitably received me 
into his miserably dirty house, where there was only 
one decent room. I quickly suggested transferring 
my bedding to the flat roof, where I had a talk 
with the villagers till long after sunset, and then 
tried to sleep. 

We started off soon after sunrise, and again a 
large crowd turned out to see me mount my bicycle. 
In about an hour we reached a nice cool stream in 
a pleasant valley, where I called a halt and fixed up 
an impromptu tent by turning my bicycle upside 
down and spreading a blanket over the wheels. 
We refreshed ourselves with a much-needed bath, 
and then I lay down in the shade of my blanket 
in order to recover some of the sleep that had been 
snatched from me during the night by the village 
vermin, while one of the servants returned to rescue 
an indispensable teapot that had been left behind. 
Early in the afternoon we ascended a very steep 
path up the side of Jebel Maklub until we reached 
the doors of a Syrian Jacobite monastery called 
Sheikh Matti. We were kindly received by the 
aged Bishop and two monks, who escorted us to the 
Bishop's dirty little room, with two small windows 
from which one obtained a glorious glimpse of the 
extensive plain that reaches beyond Mosul to the 
Sin jar Mountains. We * subsequently visited the 
cave where the much-revered Ibn Hebraeus studied 
and wrote his famous commentaries. Late that 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 177 

night a well-armed Kurdish ruffian was admitted to 
the hospitality of the monastery. He was accom- 
panied by a young girl, who was kindly entertained 
by the deaconesses who, strange to say, reside at 
the monastery. The Kurd and his stolen bride 
departed before sunrise, and in the morning I learned 
from the Bishop the story of a Kurdish lover whose 
petitions had been rejected by the father of the girl ; 
so he arranged a midnight elopement and outwitted 
his pursuers by seeking the shelter of a Christian 
monastery at night, and hiding by day in the caves 
of the mountains. 

The following day we wandered to the far side 
of the mountain in order to visit the fine ruined 
monastery of Mar Ebrahom, which is beautifully 
situated in a lovely gorge overlooking the Upper 
Zab and the country that stretches towards Erebil. 
We came across a number of Kurds who were cutting 
down the oaks for the purpose of preparing charcoal, 
and we were astonished to see one powerful Kurdish 
girl, of fifteen summers only, who was carrying on 
her back a huge sack of charcoal about twice her 
size. We had an exciting experience with half a 
dozen wild boar, such as one may encounter in 
many parts of the mountains. We possessed but 
one revolver, so beat a hasty retreat when we 
stumbled too near the lair of an angry sow. On 
our return the Bishop pointed out the entrance 
to a long tunnel that went right from his monastery 
through the mountain to the ruins of Mar Ebrahom. 
He also produced an ancient volume containing the 

12 



178 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

information that soon after the death of Constantine 
the Great the monastery and the surrounding caves 
were inhabited by over 1200 monks. He showed us 
some famous old tombs in his monastery church, 
bearing inscriptions that date back nearly 1600 
years. 

I had a narrow escape from a nasty accident 
when the Bishop insisted on my explaining to him 
the method of riding a bicycle. I protested there 
was no place in the monastery where I could con- 
veniently mount it, but he compelled me to go 
with him to a narrow roof, and there I tried, as 
carefully as possible, to show him how I mounted 
the iron horse. A sudden gust of wind carried 
me along farther than I had intended to go, and I 
was nearly hurled headlong into the valley below, 
only saving my neck by breaking my knees upon 
the small coping that surrounded the roof. 

The next day I proceeded towards the village of 
Bashaikah, passing through a few Mohammedan 
hamlets belonging to the Shiah sect known as the 
Shabakah. Bashaikah is also a Christian Jacobite 
village, where I was very warmly welcomed by 
the priest, who invited me to take up my quarters 
inside the church, as this seemed to be the regular 
caravanserai for travellers. Our animals were 
tethered to trees in the churchyard, and, by way of 
showing special honour to an English cleric, the 
priest ordered my bed to be spread on the chancel 
steps, and the episcopal chair was brought out of 
the sanctuary to serve me as a table We were 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 179 

interested to learn that the fine large church had 
been built entirely by the villagers. It was a 
substantial marble structure without transepts, but 
the customary screened chancel and nave were 
covered with quite a respectable dome. The village 
priest was the head mason of the village, as well 
as being the chief farmer and spiritual adviser to 
his people. 

I had a very friendly reception in the neigh- 
bouring village of Bahsani, and in some of the 
Yezidee villages of the district, where we were per- 
mitted to enter their roofless sanctuaries, which had 
the appearance of Druidical cromlechs. 

Soon after my return to Mosul I received a tele- 
gram from an American missionary of Urumiah, 
to say he was smitten with sunstroke at the moun- 
tain village of Dehi. There was no doctor at that 
time in Mosul, and as I was the only European 
friend likely to be able to help him, I decided to 
start away the same evening, accompanied by a 
well-known Syrian who had spent many years in 
America. This gentleman, Daoud by name, pro- 
cured the necessary mules after much difficulty, 
while I busied myself with the packing of medicines 
and provisions. As the shade temperature was 
about 97 , it was advisable to travel only by night. 
The muleteer promised to hurry us across the scorch- 
ing plain so that we might reach the village of 
Dehok, at the foot of the mountains, soon after 
sunrise. As usual, however, we started badly, for 
the mules were two hours late. We then learned 



lo MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

to our sorrow that the animals, which the muleteer 
declared were as frisky as gazelles, had only reached 
Mosul with merchandise that morning, so that 
they were tired and we were consequently making 
very slow progress. After the busy day spent in 
making preparations, we also began to feel pain- 
fully sleepy, and at midnight we stopped for half an 
hour to feed the mules. Wrapped up in my over- 
coat, I lay down upon the thorny earth and 
immediately fell fast asleep. To wake up and 
mount a mule after so brief a nap is an agonising 
experience, but we reminded ourselves of the still 
far-distant shelter that could not be reached before 
the break of day. We were grieved to learn at 
sunrise that it would still take us five hours to 
reach Dehok. Within an hour the sun began to 
feel unpleasantly hot : we knew that a few hours 
of this sort of travelling under a scorching sun 
would certainly incapacitate us, so we decided to 
make for a village six miles distant. The heat was 
terrific, and the glare of the barren plain, for that 
few miles, was like the glow of a furnace fire. There 
was no tree or shade of any kind to be seen in the 
plain, and our only hope of shelter was to ride on 
with all speed to the village. 

At last we arrived, and found it to be a half-ruined 
Yezidee village. Many of the huts were unoccupied, 
and the few people that remained were evidently 
in great misery and destitution. There were no 
cows, no chickens, no eggs ; there was no food of 
any kind to be bought, and we found the place 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 181 

intolerably hot, swarming with flies, and unspeak- 
ably dirty ; still, we were thankful for the small 
amount of shelter afforded us by a stone wall and 
mud roof. A little porridge and a cup of cocoa 
refreshed us, but we sorely needed rest, and we all 
complained of a splitting headache, the flies worried 
us, and sleep seemed impossible in such a place. 
My companions drew attention to our bloodshot 
eyes and declared we should never be able to reach 
the mountain village if every step of the journey 
was to be as bad as this. I looked about for a 
cooler place, and suddenly alighted upon a very 
dark, dirty stable with two horses in it. The people 
warned me not to enter it, but I resolved to risk it 
and, putting on my Wellington boots, I carried my 
camp bedstead into the stable and placed it in the 
darkest corner and tried to steal a little sleep before 
the vermin found me out. The people were right, 
but I managed to get in two hours' slumber. My 
companions followed my example, and after another 
meal we mounted our animals and started away 
two hours before sunset. 

For an hour we skirted the foot of a small moun- 
tain, and then our road lay through a pleasant 
valley, in some places well wooded, whilst here and 
there we came across picturesque waterfalls partially 
concealed by the foliage. On the slopes of the 
mountains to the right of the road there lay an 
enormous stretch of vineyards : the town was on 
the opposite side, and the direct path should have 
brought us to our resting-place in two and a half 



1*2 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

hours. Without being aware of our muleteers' 
plans, for reasons of their own they led us by a 
circuitous road that delayed us nearly three hours. 
On reaching the town we took refuge in a quiet 
corner on the roof of a khan, had a good meal, and 
then rolled off into a sound slumber. We were now 
safe from the heat of the plain, for the air of Dehok 
was decidedly cooler than that of Mosul, and our 
road henceforth led up into the mountains. 

We started soon after sunrise, passed through 
some beautifully hilly country, and after a few 
hours reached the Kurdish village of Kemakah, 
charmingly situated upon a mountain ridge, with a 
lovely verdant valley spreading out before it. The 
sheikh's house was nicely built and well kept, but 
the aged owner was absent, and we were welcomed 
by his son with every mark of honour and respect. 
Carpets and cushions were spread for us under a 
large nubbak tree, and some of the villagers were 
quickly ordered to supply us with all the food and 
water we needed. 

With true Eastern courtesy, which to the Western 
traveller passes for impertinence, we were duly 
asked to explain the object of our journey and all 
our business. We told them of the sick missionary 
in Dehi, and the people were at once persuaded that 
I was a first-class doctor and Daoud was my 
assistant. We were therefore obliged to see a 
number of patients and freely dispensed our 
medicines, never omitting, however, the necessary 
preliminary of examining the pulse before we 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 183 

pronounced upon the complaint or its remedy. To 
have treated an ulcer with a little boracic before 
feeling the pulse would have spoiled our chances 
of success. 

A little after noon, when thoroughly tired, we 
begged leave to take a little sleep ; but we were not 
permitted to rest long in peace, for most of the 
women of the village had been gathered in the 
sheikh's house, and we were asked to go and see 
them before proceeding on our journey. An 
immense number of complaints were brought before 
us, and we knew it would be useless to plead our 
inability, so we commenced to distribute more 
medicines in the wisest way possible. The people 
have their own ideas about diseases and remedies, 
wherefore Daoud wisely insisted upon humouring 
them with the use of a terminology that they 
understood ; so a calomel tabloid was described 
as a " hot " remedy for a " cold " complaint ; 
quinine became a " cold " remedy for a " hot " 
complaint ; while a tonic was described as an 
" expulsive " remedy for the " air " in the lungs. 
This condescension to their prejudices no doubt 
saved us a lot of time, added to the efficacy of our 
remedies, and augmented our reputation. 

The heat of the day having thus passed very 
pleasantly, we again mounted our mules, crossed 
the valley, and climbed the second mountain range. 
As soon as we reached the summit there lay before 
us another charming village, nestling amid numerous 
fruit-gardens, surrounded by extensive vineyards, 



184 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

and crouching, as it were, beneath the guard of a 
hundred stately poplars. It was nearly sunset 
when we reached this Assyrian Christian village ; 
the muleteers were anxious to stay, but we were 
told that Dehi was only three hours beyond, so 
we determined to press on. 

We struggled along slowly in the darkness, and 
after two and a half hours reached another Kurdish 
village, for the muleteers had once more taken the 
wrong road. The dogs began to bark, and in a 
moment we were surrounded by a suspicious crowd 
of Kurds, all armed with rifles and daggers. Our 
muleteers again tried to force us to stay, but it was 
evident that by doing so we should certainly have 
been robbed. Half an hour's wrangling seemed 
to make no improvement in the situation, for the 
villagers began to unstrap our baggage, and matters 
looked so serious that I felt obliged to order the 
Zaptiah, who was our official guard, to leave the 
village at once and walk on in front of me. At 
the same moment I whispered to Daoud to make 
terms with the village sheikh and to offer him a 
bribe if he would accompany us as guide. The 
double move proved successful, and we started 
away with the would-be robber at our head. 
Travelling was now very difficult and really dan- 
gerous in the darkness. Three times I rolled off my 
saddle in consequence of the girths working them- 
selves loose through the steep ascents and descents 
of the road. Soon after midnight we entered the 
little village of Dehi. The barking of the dogs 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 185 

aroused everybody, and immediately the roofs of 
the houses were alive with the disturbed villagers. 
We made anxious inquiries after the missionary, 
and were gratified to learn that he had made a rapid 
recovery and was slumbering in a tent just outside 
the village, so we decided not to disturb him till 
the morning. 

We spent five pleasant days in this charming 
mountain village. It is a place that has frequently 
been used as a summer resort for the American 
missionaries who formerly worked in Mosul. The 
village is situated about 2500 feet above sea-level, 
and the stately mountains present a magnificent 
spectacle, rising higher and higher, range after 
range, beyond the village towards the Tiari country. 
The snow is always visible and can be reached in 
a walk of six or seven hours from the village. Our 
tent was pitched in a shady spot by the side of a 
great ravine, and during the night I found it neces- 
sary to cover myself with three thick blankets as a 
protection from the wind that swept down the 
gorge. 

Early in the morning we had a pleasant talk with 
some of the villagers, and the missionary suggested 
to a young lad that he should go and bring us some 
honey for breakfast. He was wearing a brown felt 
hat exactly the shape of an inverted pudding- 
basin. In a very short time he returned to us with 
the hat full of honey, mixed with wild bees, as he 
had evidently made a raid upon a mountain hive. 
We were visited day after day by large numbers of 



186 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Kurds, and accepted invitations to some of their 
villages. 

Our journey back to Mosul was by a different road, 
and, as a rumour was spread around that a European 
doctor was travelling through the mountains, the 
villagers gave us no rest ; at every stopping-place 
we were besieged by unreasonable crowds clamour- 
ing for medicines. 

On one of our night journeys I had a terrible 
fright and a narrow escape from sudden death We 
were proceeding slowly one behind the other along 
a difficult mountain path, in the pitch darkness 
made more dense by the overhanging oaks and 
towering rocks. The first mule was being led by 
our guide and we all followed closely behind, in and 
out, up and down, stumbling and slipping over ugly 
rocks and stones. The girth of my English saddle 
occasionally getting loose upon the small mountain 
mule, made it difficult for me to keep quite close to 
the one in front. At a sharp turn in the path the 
leaders disappeared and my animal, losing the way, 
kept straight on. Suddenly, to my horror, I saw 
the mule had come to the very brink of a precipice, 
revealed by the light of a camp-fire in the valley 
beneath. Two more steps and we would have gone 
headlong over the precipice. I drew the reins with 
all my might ; to turn about was dangerous, for an 
awkward step backwards would have been fatal, so 
I simply slid off as gently as possible, and when I 
reached the ground I breathed a thanksgiving and 
determined to ride no more till break of day. I 



THE HIGHLANDS OF KURDISTAN 187 

shouted to my companions to wait for me till I had 
discovered the track, and having reached them I 
delivered the reins of my mule to one of the men and 
walked along for the rest of the night's march. 

The difficulties were such that we found it im- 
possible to complete the stage that night to Dehok, 
so called a halt in a deep ravine by the side of a very 
unpleasant sulphur spring. A few strangers were 
prowling about, and as I could not see who or what 
they were, I warned the servants to watch in turn, 
but being excessively tired they all quickly fell 
asleep. As the baggage was mine and not theirs, 
I suppose it was only natural that anxiety for its 
safety successfully kept me awake. At the dawn of 
day I noticed a stranger lying asleep close by me. 
He was an ill-clad Turkish soldier who had borrowed 
one of our saddle-bags to serve as a covering, and 
there he lay with his legs inside it, a perfect picture 
of poverty. 

The only village we stopped at on this return 
journey was the famous Chaldean Christian village 
of Tel- Keif, about ten miles from Mosul. The ride 
from here across the hot plain to Mosul was a short 
but trying one, yet all was forgotten in the long 
sleep we slept that night in our own clean beds upon 
our own hospitable roofs. 



CHAPTER XI 

CHRISTIAN MISSIONS IN MESOPOTAMIA 

The Apostle St Thomas is credited with having 
found his way to the banks of the Euphrates and 
the Tigris, where, it is said, he successfully 
evangelised those dwellers in Mesopotamia of whom 
some were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. 
The Church which was founded here evidently 
developed remarkable missionary activity, for within 
a few centuries its operations had extended to 
Persia, India, and the far-distant boundaries of 
China. 

Political conditions constantly tended to isolate 
the churches of Mesopotamia from the rest of 
Christendom. The Roman Emperors and their 
successors were always at war with the various rulers 
of the lands beyond the Euphrates, and the inevit- 
able result was that misunderstandings arose between 
the theologians of the different countries, the re- 
ligious opinions of the Christians in Mesopotamia 
were regarded as heretical, and in due course these 
communities became known to Western Christen- 
dom as Nestorians. 

188 



CHRISTIAN MISSIONS 189 

Their missionary activity, however, was in no 
way diminished by their isolation from the main 
body of the Christian Church. Interesting rumours 
came from Persia of flourishing churches associated 
with the famous Prester John, and when Vasco da 
Gama discovered the Cape route to India, great 
was his surprise to be greeted by a Christian king 
who ruled over large provinces of Christian subjects 
along the Malabar coast. It is recorded that King 
Alfred the Great, in the year 883, sent a mission for 
devotional purposes to the shrine of St Thomas in 
Malabar, and that his messengers travelled by the 
customary overland route, through Asia Minor and 
Mesopotamia. When Haroun 1 Raschid was the 
great Khalif of Baghdad there were as many as 
twenty-five primates who acknowledged the supre- 
macy of the Baghdad patriarch, and who guided 
the fortunes of the flourishing Christian churches 
that were established between Edessa and Pekin. 

The descendants of the early Indian Christians 
still number about half a million souls in Malabar, 
and it is interesting to recall the fact that their 
evangelisation was effected in the early centuries 
of the Christian era from the land of Mesopotamia, 
the conquest of which became India's chief concern 
in the great world war. 

The Malabar communities are still called the 
" Christians of St Thomas," from a tradition, as 
some suppose, that the Apostle himself laboured in 
India and was buried in Mylapore. It is more 
probable, however, that only the name came to 



igo MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

India with the missionaries from Mesopotamia who 
received their commission from the churches of 
St Thomas, and who would carry with them both 
the authority and the prestige of their apostolic 
founder. Some of these Christians are called 
"Jacobites," not because Jacob of Nisibin went 
to Malabar, but because his devoted labours have 
caused his name to become attached to that branch 
of the Church to which these Malabar Christians 
belong. 

But the missionaries from Mesopotamia not only 
evangelised large portions of India, they penetrated 
to the confines of China at a time when travelling 
must have been most difficult and dangerous. An 
interesting book, written by a Chinaman, upon 
The Nestorian Monument in China throws light 
upon the successful labours of these early messengers 
to the Far East. For over 600 years (namely, from 
a.d. 618-1277) the Nestorian leaven gradually 
but surely permeated the whole tone of Chinese 
literature, and the theistic conceptions which are 
clearly expressed by Confucian and Tauoist writers 
can be traced to the Christian notions which the 
Chinese derived from the men of Mesopotamia. 
Professor Saeki informs us that an imperial edict 
was issued in the year 845, for the purpose of sup- 
pressing the foreign teachers who had found their 
way to China, which ordered 3000 Nestorian and 
Moslem teachers to return to secular life and cease 
bringing confusion into the national customs and 
manners of the Chinese. There are indications in 



CHRISTIAN MISSIONS 191 

China to-day that the influence of these teachers 
has to some extent survived the repression that was 
intended to utterly crush it out. If, however, the 
marks of their successful labours have been mostly 
obliterated in China, we must not too hastily assume 
that this is solely because their presentation of 
Christianity was an imperfect one. We are learn- 
ing to-day what havoc can be wrought in Christen- 
dom by persecution and war ; we remember that 
many Christian provinces in North Africa and the 
East have been desolated by fanatical oppressors ; 
and most missionaries will readily acknowledge the 
imperfections of our Western methods that hamper 
the effective presentation of the Truth to the 
Eastern mind. Nevertheless, the Gospel prevails 
in a world that lieth in wickedness, and the marvel 
remains that so much was accomplished in India 
and China by the early missionaries of Mesopotamia. 
It is not only India and the Far East that owe 
their debt of gratitude to the Churches of Mesopo- 
tamia : the lands of the West are much more in- 
debted to the learned Nestorian divines of the city 
of Baghdad. In the years that produced The 
Arabian Nights, when Islam flourished by the 
waters of Babylon, in the golden prime of Haroun 
1 Raschid, there were some remarkable movements 
amongst the Moslems in favour of freethought and 
philosophical speculations. The followers of the 
Prophet not only fraternised with Christians, many 
of whom obtained high positions at the Sultan's 
court, but they persuaded the learned theologians 



192 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

to translate the Greek philosophies of Aristotle 
and Plato into the Arabic tongue. It was thus 
that the Arabs in the East were able to preserve, 
through the Dark Ages, when barbarians overran 
Europe, the light and learning which is now claimed 
to be an essential element of Western culture. In 
subsequent years, when Mohammedanism spread 
through North Africa and established itself in 
Southern Spain, these Arabic writings found their 
way to the West and were retranslated at Granada 
and Cordova into the Romance languages of Europe. 
In this way the long-lost Greek philosophies were 
rediscovered, and the diligent search for the originals 
is known to have promoted that Revival of Learning 
which led up to the Reformation and changed the 
character of so many of the countries of Europe. 

Those of us who have lived in Mesopotamia 
could sympathise with the frequent complaints 
made by our troops against the ferocious heat and 
the countless plagues that made life intolerable in 
that desolate land. Yet there was a time when the 
whole of Mesopotamia was a veritable Garden of 
Eden, due largely to the paramount influence of a 
Christian woman ; when 90 per cent, of its fertile 
soil was brought under cultivation by means of 
extensive irrigation. This was at the close of the 
Persian Sassanian dynasty, under the rule of 
Chosroes II., whose ruined palace is now represented 
by the great arch of Ctesiphon. The Parsees of 
Bombay forwarded an address to General Towns- 
hend in which they expressed their appreciation of 



CHRISTIAN MISSIONS 193 

the fact that at the battle of Ctesiphon the General 
gave special orders to protect the venerable arch of 
Chosroes. 

Chosroes II. was the last of the Sassanian 
monarchs who ruled over Mesopotamia before the 
Mohammedan invasion. He was a fugitive just 
before he succeeded to the throne, and whilst he 
was in exile he became deeply impressed by what 
he saw and heard of Christian worship. Conse- 
quently, in the earlier part of his reign he favoured 
the profession of Christianity, and contrary to the 
laws of the country he married a Christian wife, 
Sira or Shirin. He built her a summer palace in a 
salubrious spot, now also comparatively desolate, but 
still known as Kasr-i-Shirin, for the possession of 
which Russian and Turkish troops fought in the cam- 
paigns that swayed to and fro on the Persian frontier. 

Chosroes had a superstitious reverence for the 
Christian saint and martyr, Sergius, whom he 
adopted as a sort of patron saint of Mesopotamia. 
The influence of Chosroes' Christian queen was so 
great that she obtained permission to build numer- 
ous churches and monasteries around Ctesiphon, 
and when she died her statue was sculptured and 
a present of one was sent by Chosroes to the Roman 
Emperor, while others were sent to various poten- 
tates in the East to signify the high regard held for 
this Christian queen by one of the most strange 
yet most successful monarchs of Mesopotamia. 

Coming down to modern days, there is a brief 
but interesting chapter in the history of Christian 

13 



194 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

evangelism in Mesopotamia which is not very gener- 
ally known. It might be incorrect to say that 
Plymouth Brethrenism was weaned in Mesopotamia, 
but we should not be far wrong in using this ex- 
pression, for some of its prominent leaders were 
thrown together upon a work which its historian, 
Neatby, declares, " provided one of the most 
interesting episodes " in the whole of the history 
of the Plymouth sect. Anthony N. Groves was 
a dentist of Exeter, who, in obedience to what he 
believed to be the commands of Christ, sold all he 
had and started out in 1828 as a missionary to 
Mesopotamia. He was accompanied by a youth 
who was stone deaf, whom Groves had befriended 
in his affliction, and who now found it his delight 
to go with him to Baghdad as tutor to his boys. 
This youth was none other than the famous John 
Kitto, the C.M.S. compositor at the Malta printing 
press, who subsequently attained eminence in the 
department of Biblical literature. Kitto retained 
a real affection for his kindly benefactor, and in an 
enthusiastic eulogy of him declared that, " in the 
whole world, as far as I know it, there is not one 
man whose character I venerate so highly." 

A year after Groves left England for Baghdad, a 
party of seven others started out to join him, and 
amongst them were Parnell, who afterwards became 
Lord Congleton, and Francis W. Newman, who 
became associated with his more famous brother, 
Cardinal Newman, in the Tractarian movement. 

This second party of missionaries was detained 



CHRISTIAN MISSIONS 195 

for fifteen months in Aleppo, and eventually reached 
Baghdad in 1831, the year of the great plague which 
carried off half the population of the city. The 
plague was followed by civil war, the city was 
besieged by Arab tribes, and bullets occasionally 
swept the flat roof of the house on the banks of the 
Tigris where Groves and his family slept. 

Sorrow and misfortune dogged the steps of this 
pioneer band of missionaries : a flood carried away 
part of the mission house ; Mrs Cronin, the mother of 
one of the missionaries, as well as the wife and a 
child of Mr Groves, died in Baghdad ; Parnell, who 
married Cronin's sister in Aleppo, also buried his 
young wife there. Newman and Kitto returned to 
England in 1832. Groves left Baghdad for India 
in May 1833, and the mission in Mesopotamia was 
given up a few years later. 

In 1856 the Rev. A. Stern paid a visit to Baghdad 
with a view to the opening up of missionary work 
amongst the Jews, and a little later Joseph Wolff, 
the son of a Bavarian rabbi, who had been 
baptized by a Benedictine monk, also came to 
Baghdad for the same purpose. 

In 1876 the Free Church of Scotland sent one of its 
Bombay missionaries to sell Scriptures in Baghdad, 
where the British and Foreign Bible Society opened 
a depot in 1880. On the recommendation of 
Dr Bruce of Persia, the C.M.S. opened its work in 
Baghdad in 1882, and continued it without a break 
till Dr Johnson was removed by the Turks soon 
after the British occupation of Basra. 



196 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

In addition to the Protestant Missions, a very 
extensive work has been carried on for over a 
century by the Carmelites and Dominicans of the 
Roman Communion. They have succeeded in 
absorbing the majority of the Eastern Christians 
into the Uniat communities which are called the 
Chaldean, the Syrian Catholic, and the Armenian 
Catholic Churches. 



CHAPTER XII 

MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 

The British Empire was never confronted by a 
greater peril than that which arose when the 
Sultan of Turkey proclaimed, at the instigation of 
Germany, a religious war to the two or three hundred 
millions of Mohammedans. Mr Morgenthau, the 
American Ambassador, has told us that his German 
colleague Wangenheim explained to him one of 
Germany's main purposes in forcing Turkey into the 
conflict. " He made this explanation quite non- 
chalantly, as though it had been quite the most 
ordinary matter in the world. Sitting in his office, 
puffing away at his big black German cigar, he 
unfolded Germany's scheme to arouse the whole 
fanatical Moslem world against the Christians." 
Germany had planned a real " Holy War M as one 
means of destroying English and French influence 
in the world. " Turkey herself is not the really 
important matter," said Wangenheim. " Her army 
is a small one, and we do not expect it to do very 
much. For the most part it will act on the defen- 
sive. But the big thing is the Moslem world. If 

197 



198 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

we can stir up the Moslems against the English 
and Russians we can force them to make peace." 1 
So the German plan was forced upon a reluctant 
Sultan, and in order that its solemn significance 
may be properly appreciated I venture to quote the 
following summary of the Fetwa issued by the 
Sheikh 1 Islam at the time when the " Jehad " 
was proclaimed at Constantinople : 

" When the Khalif declares a Jehad it will be 
necessary and imperative for all Moslems in 
all quarters of the world, whether young or 
old, to join the Jehad with all their might. 

" It is necessary for all Moslems living in the 
States of Russia, England, and France to take 
up arms and literally to join the Jehad. All 
who refrain from doing so will bring upon 
themselves the wrath of God and will be 
punished. 

" Even those who are brought against their 
will and with force are made to fight against 
a Mohammedan state will be committing 
murder punishable with hell-fire. Therefore in 
the present war all Mohammedans who are in 
England, France, Russia, Serbia, and Montene- 
gro will be committing a great sin by fighting 
against Germany and Austria, who are pro- 
tectors and friends of Islam." 

In addition to this official proclamation, a 
pamphlet appeared which was read in the mosques 
1 Secrets of the Bosphorus, p. 105. 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 199 

and distributed stealthily in India, Egypt, Morocco, 
Syria, and other Mohammedan countries. Mr 
Morgenthau gives us the translation of an extract 
which declares : 

" The killing of infidels who rule over Islam 
has become a sacred duty, whether you do it 
secretly or openly. As the Koran has decreed : 
Take them and kill them whenever you find 
them. Behold, we have delivered them into your 
hands and given you supreme power over them. 
He who kills even one unbeliever of those who 
rule over us, whether he does it secretly or 
openly, shall be rewarded by God. And let 
every Moslem, in whatever part of the world 
he may be, swear a solemn oath to kill at least 
three or four infidels who rule over him, for 
they are the enemies of God and of the faith. 
Let every Moslem know that his reward for 
doing so shall be doubled by the God who 
created heaven and earth." 1 

It was evident that Germany's pretensions to be 
the friend of Islam were entirely insincere and 
altogether political. When General Smuts was in 
command of the British forces in East Africa, he 
reported upon the capture of the German archives 
at Moshi, where he found the following circular : 

" You are requested to send within three 
months from date of receipt a report stating 
what can be done by means of Government 
1 Secrets of the Bosphorus, p. 106. 



200 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

servants and Government teachers to effect- 
ively counteract the spread of Islamic propa- 
ganda. Do you consider it possible to make 
a regulation prohibiting Islam altogether ? 
Possibly a rule might be enforced by which 
teachers would not be allowed to perform 
circumcisions or act as preachers in the 
mosques, etc. The same prohibition might 
also be applied to other Government servants. 
The encouragement of pig-breeding among 
natives is recommended by experts as an 
effective means of stopping the spread of 
Islam. Please consider this point also." 

I have so often drawn attention to this serious 
Eastern peril that some of my friends have won- 
dered whether I was justified in laying so much 
emphasis upon the Moslem menace. The numerous 
quotations I adduce will assist my readers to gauge 
the import of a scheme which I characterise as one 
of the darkest plots ever conceived against the 
forces of civilisation. 

A statement was made by the Earl of Crewe in 
the House of Lords on 20th July 191 5 which 
indicated the importance of Mesopotamia in its 
relation to Mecca and the whole of the Moslem 
world. Referring to the situation created by the 
proclamation of a Jehad, he said : " It was always 
possible that if we had not then shown our strength 
Islam as a whole might have been deflected against 
us. It is difficult to foresee what the effect on 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 201 

Persia and on the Arabian peninsula would have 
been if Islam so far east had declared itself hostile 
to the Allies. It could hardly have been avoided 
that Afghanistan should also have gone against us. 
Further, we had to consider the position and 
prospects of the great Moslem population of Africa, 
which in turn might easily have been aroused against 
us and our Allies. From those dangerous possi- 
bilities, in our judgment, we were altogether saved 
by the prompt move to the head of the Persian 
Gulf," i.e. to Mesopotamia. 

The two points to which I would draw attention 
are : first, that the situation which was develop- 
ing in the Moslem world threatened to become a 
serious menace to the British Empire ; and secondly, 
this situation was effectively dealt with, from a 
military point of view, by a moving of troops to 
Mesopotamia. 

Let us examine the two points separately. 

1. The situation referred to was clearly that 
which confronted Great Britain with the entry of 
Turkey into the conflict, and the proclamation 
of a " Holy War." 

" It was possible," said Lord Crewe and much 
more possible than most people at present realise, 
" that the Moslem world as a whole might have 
been deflected against us." What would then have 
happened if we had failed to deal effectively with 
this formidable menace, if the Holy War " had 
followed the course anticipated by our foes ? 

India, we must remember, was not absolutely 



202 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

quiet. " There was serious unrest," said Mr Cham- 
berlain, " at one moment in the Punjab, arising from 
the return of emigrants not unconnected with 
German intrigue and conspiracy. We must also 
remember that there were German plots to provoke 
risings there and to land arms, which required 
constant vigilance and watching ; and that whilst 
India was sending great forces abroad, there were 
between 27th November 1914 and 5th September 
1 91 5 no fewer than seven serious attacks made on 
the North- West frontier." N w there are nearly 
twice as many Moslems in India as there are people 
in the British Isles, and Lord Hardinge informed us 
that, in the absence of armed forces, we were obliged 
to rely absolutely upon the good-will of our Indian 
subjects. There were twenty millions of Moslems in 
Russia, and the activities of the Senussi warned us 
that the provinces governed by France and Italy in 
North Africa are filled with some very fanatical 
sects of Moslems. 

I have no hesitation, therefore, in saying that if 
the worst had happened and the worst might have 
happened there would have been a massacre in 
India, and the British authorities would have been 
compelled to withdraw. The Moslems of the 
Caucasus could have prevented the Russians from 
penetrating into Persia or Armenia, and Germany, 
with the aid of the Moslems, could have obtained 
practical control of the lands that lie between Con- 
stantinople and Calcutta. There would also have 
been an uprising and a massacre in Egypt, North 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 203 

Africa, and the Soudan, and the whole southern 
shore of the Mediterranean would have been at 
Germany's disposal. 

Mohammedanism, when aroused by the call of a 
Jehad, has more than once trampled down some of 
the fairest fields of Christendom. It arose from the 
deserts/ of Arabia, it spread like a consuming fire 
over the Byzantine Empire, and came to the very 
gates of Vienna. It trampled down the well- 
organised Christian churches of Egypt and North 
Africa, and established itself in Southern Spain. 
It took possession of the finest Christian cities in 
Eastern Europe, and it has held Constantinople for 
nearly five hundred years, in spite of all that 
millions of Crusaders could do to recover it for 
Christendom. Now, once again, the Sultan of 
Turkey used his authority, not as Sultan of the 
Ottoman dominions, but as " Head of the Faith- 
ful," to hurl at the British Empire not only the 
Ottoman troops but the religious fanaticism of 
the Mohammedan world. His official proclamation 
might easily have resulted in a recrudescence of 
fanaticism, to the ruin of our Empire overseas and 
the devastation of Christendom. 

2. All these developments were possible, and 
" from these dangerous possibilities," said Lord 
Crewe, " we were altogether saved by the expedition 
to Mesopotamia." But why, we naturally ask, 
should it be possible to deal with the whole Moslem 
world through Mesopotamia ? Is not Cairo or Delhi 
of more importance to Islam than Baghdad ? Yes, 



204 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

but and the explanation is full of interest from 
many points of view. Everybody knows, but most 
people forget, that the Arab is essentially an Eastern, 
that Islam is essentially the religion of the Arab, 
and that Mecca is essentially the centre of Islam. 

As an Eastern, the Arab has his own way of 
looking at things a poetical and picturesque way, 
neither logical nor yet unreasonable. The Arab 
does not despise the West ; on the contrary, he 
has a great admiration for many things Western ; 
but nevertheless, just as no Christian is admitted to 
Mecca, so also no Western influence is welcome there. 
Cairo and Delhi are Westernised, the Egyptian 
and Indian Moslems in the Arabian peninsula 
are foreigners ; and in the matter of guidance the 
Arab, as a true Eastern, will take counsel only of his 
own kith and kin. The Shah of Persia once sent to 
a Bakhtiari chief asking for the hand of his daugh- 
ter, but all the liveried messengers from the royal 
court failed to persuade the old man to listen to 
the Shah's demands. He gave no reason for his 
refusal : he simply refused. One day the chief met 
a herdsman of his own tribe and kindred, who said 
to him, " I hear you decline to give your daughter 
to the Shah." "Yes," said the chief. "Well, 
what do you think I ought to do ? " "I think 
you ought to give her," was the reply. " Do you ? 
Then so I will " and the thing was done. 

Now Mecca as the centre of Islam will naturally 
lead the Moslem world, but Mecca as the heart of 
Arabia will not willingly be led by anything that is 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 205 

not Arab. How then could Mecca be reached and 
effectively persuaded to use its immense influence 
in the Moslem world as a counterpoise to the 
Sultan's proclamation of a " Holy War " ? No 
expedition could be landed at Jeddah or taken to 
Mecca, for this would have precipitated a Moslem 
revolt, and all communications with Mecca from 
Jeddah or Damascus must pass under the watchful 
scrutiny of the suspicious Turk. There was only 
one other route to the centre of Islam, and Great 
Britain has been able to keep this avenue open from 
Mesopotamia for many a year past. There are 
many highly respectable, pure-blooded Arabs at 
the head of the Persian Gulf, who, thanks to 
Great Britain, have not only enjoyed immunity from 
Turkish tyranny, but have kept in touch with 
Mecca on the one hand, and, through India, with 
the Western world on the other. It should be 
noticed that the first official appointment made by 
the Shereef of Mecca after the revolt was that of 
Omar Bey El Farouky, a member of one of the 
noble Arab families of Baghdad, to be the Shereef's 
representative in Cairo. Mecca knows Great Britain 
best from what we have done for a century 
past in the Persian Gulf and in India. Through 
the same avenue also came Mecca's introduction 
to Turkey's latest ally, and she soon learned to 
distrust and despise Germany, whose evil deeds in 
the Persian Gulf were as repugnant to the Arabs 
as the tyranny of the Turk in Syria. Ever since 
Germany tried forcibly to wrest territory from the 



206 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Sheikh of Koweit for the terminus of the Baghdad 
Railway, and for her own ends stirred up Ibn Raschid 
to precipitate war amongst the Arab tribes, Mecca 
has been on its guard against Germany, and with 
the aid of the powerful Ibn Saood a broad corridor 
of tribal sympathies with Great Britain has been 
kept open from Mesopotamia to Mecca. 

Actions, especially with the Arabs, speak louder 
than words. These sons of Ishmael will not often 
reason with a foreigner, but I have noticed their 
readiness to become the slaves of our medical 
missionaries. Invitations from the heart of Arabia 
reached the mission doctors at Koweit and Baghdad, 
with offers of hospitality and assurances of a wel- 
come to places where the foot of the " infidel " is 
not generally allowed to tread. Britain's reputation 
in Arabia was not dependent upon diplomacy and 
could not be shattered by intrigues, for it was 
established upon its righteous dealings for a 
century past with the Arabs who were resident in 
India, the Persian Gulf, and the Euphrates valley. 

In addition to the regular communications which 
are ordinarily maintained by the Arabs of Mesopo- 
tamia with their kindred in Nejd, and Mecca, there 
are two important pilgrim routes that start from 
Nejif, near the Euphrates, and Koweit, in the 
Persian Gulf. Some of the nomads also, like the 
great Shammar camel-breeding tribe, migrate from 
Arabia to the north in the summer, and claim the 
right to extensive pasture lands as far north as the 
vicinity of Mosul. 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 207 

The Arab revolt was definitely announced in 
June 1916, but at the beginning of 1915 the Shereef 
of Mecca consulted with the great Ibn Saood of 
Nejd, and in November of the same year he sent 
his son on a mission to this powerful chief, for he 
dared not move against the Turks without the 
sympathy and support of the Emir of Nejd. It 
was the Mesopotamian Expedition that brought 
Ibn Saood to the side of the Allies, and Captain 
Shakespear sacrificed his life in leading the Arabs 
of Nejd against the pro-Turkish armies of Ibn 
Raschid. 

There is still another reason why the Islamic 
world is more or less affected by movements in 
Mesopotamia. It is the land of holy places, 
sacred shrines, and venerated Moslem tombs. 
There are two sacred places near the banks of the 
Euphrates which are second only in importance to 
the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina. These are 
the holy cities of Kerbela and Nejif, where were 
enacted the tragedies commemorated by the Shiahs 
everywhere, and in India by the Sunnis and Shiahs 
alike in the passion play and festival of the tenth 
day of Moharrem. 

The Mujtahid of Kerbela is one of the most 
influential leaders of the Shiah sect, yet he, with 
many other distinguished leaders like the Aga 
Khan, the Sultan of Zanzibar, the Sultan of Muscat, 
the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Amir of Afghanistan, 
and the Shah of Persia, deliberately refused to 
supp6rt the military despotism of the Turks, and 



208 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

actually took up arms in defence of the standards 
of modern civilisation. The Mujtahid of Kerbela 
sent a telegram to King George congratulating him 
upon the British occupation of the city of Baghdad, 
and the Arabic proclamation which was read to 
the inhabitants was received with unbounded 
enthusiasm in Mesopotamia. The proclamation 
declared that our troops had entered Baghdad not 
as conquerors, but as liberators, to restore to the 
Arabs the heritage of their forefathers. 

When I was last in Kerbela I enjoyed the 
privilege of a conversation with the chief Mujtahid. 
I happened to be visiting a former pupil of mine, 
now the much-respected British Consular Agent of 
Kerbela. The Mujtahid came into the consulate 
whilst I was there, and in the course of conversation 
remarked how great an admirer he was of the British 
race. He knew nothing of our Army, and little of 
our Navy, except what thousands of pilgrims that 
came from India had told him ; but from all his 
visitors he gathered the same impression, that the 
British authorities were distinguished for their 
honesty, truthfulness, and justice. He gave me two 
illustrations from his own experience one, when 
Sir E. O'Malley was sent all the way from Constan- 
tinople to the city of Baghdad for the purpose of 
giving a fair trial to a miserable Indian Moslem who 
had murdered a fellow-pilgrim, when the busy 
manager of the Imperial Ottoman Bank and other 
leading Englishmen of the city were cited to form 
the jury on this memorable occasion. What 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 209 

trouble and expense for the purpose of dealing justly 
with a miserable outcast who happened to be a 
British Indian subject, and what a contrast to the 
corruption of the Turkish courts ! Then, also, he 
reminded me that a former King of Oudh had, at 
his demise, left the whole of his private fortune for 
the endowment of the charities of Kerbela. The 
annual income from these invested funds, amount- 
ing to thousands of rupees, passed annually through 
the British Consulate-General to the Consular 
Agent at Kerbela, and was faithfully distributed 
every year to the rightful claimants without the 
smallest diminution or loss. Some of it could 
easily have been " eaten," as the Arabic language 
would say. " For all the officials of the Turkish 
Empire," said the Mujtahid, " are gifted with 
1 sticky fingers.' Whenever money has to pass 
through their hands, and especially if it should 
happen to be for charitable purposes, some of it 
inevitably remains behind. Don't you remember," 
he said, " that the Sultan Abdul Hamid was once 
watching a European conjurer who was supposed to 
be swallowing silver spoons ? An ambassador by 
his side remarked how wonderful it was. ' But,' 
said the Sultan, ' we can do more wonderful things 
in Turkey, for I once had a Minister of Marine who 
swallowed a battleship. The money was provided, 
the battleship never appeared, and the money dis- 
appeared.' But," continued the Mujtahid, " the 
money from India meets with no accidents " ; and 
he congratulated me upon having established the 

14 



210 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

only British schools in Mesopotamia, " for," he 
declared, " your pupil Mirza Hasan lives up to his 
education, as an honourable representative of 
British ideals." 

This " Mecca " of the great Shiah sect, as it has 
often been called, refused to respond to the Sultan's 
" Jehad," and its attitude doubtless had some 
influence upon the situation in Persia. If British 
forces had failed promptly to appear in Mesopotamia 
after the Turkish declaration of war, it is possible 
that the lying reports of the downfall of the British 
Empire, so sedulously circulated by the Turks, 
would have obtained some measure of credence 
amongst the Arabs, and the two great " Meccas " 
of Islam might have been reluctantly compelled in 
self-defence to act quickly and to take the irre- 
vocable step of lending their religious sanction to 
the Jehad, which would have given the whole 
Moslem world the most solemn reason possible for 
siding with our foes. 

As far back as 1906 there were Germans who 
openly declared they would make a tool of Islam 
in the event of a world war, and with the aid of 
its fanaticism would fashion the dynamite to 
blow into the air the rule of the Western powers 
from Morocco to Calcutta. 

The great Pan-Islamic movement was set on foot 
soon after the Kaiser proclaimed himself in 
Damascus " the Defender of Islam." Fanatical 
enthusiasts were then sent from Constantinople 
to every Moslem state to stir up discontent, to 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 211 

promote the prestige of Turkey, and to prepare for 
the great and terrible day when, at the Kaiser's 
signal, a " Holy War " would massacre millions 
in the East, while ruthless Huns made havoc of 
civilisation in the West. Every effort was made to 
flood Mohammedan lands with proclamations and 
pamphlets printed in every Mohammedan tongue. 
They not only emphasised the obligations of a 
" Holy War " and described the downfall of the 
British Empire, but they told of German guns 
bombarding London from Antwerp, of Zeppelins 
that flew over Petrograd armed with a powerful 
magnet which snapped up the Czar ! To prove to 
the incredulous that the Germans had really sub- 
mitted to Islam, illustrations were published of the 
ruined churches of Belgium which the Germans had 
destroyed " upon their repudiation of the Christian 
faith." This is the way the Turks endeavoured to 
deceive their ignorant Moslem subjects. They and 
their German masters made a cat's-paw of Islam 
solely for the furtherance of their own ambitions. 

" You must have made a mistake," said the 
Kaiser to the Turks, u when you made Constanti- 
nople the capital of the Mohammedan world. It 
is too near Russia, too near the confines of Chris- 
tendom. Ever since you came to Constantinople 
the Ottoman Empire has been on the wane ; you are 
out of touch with the Moslem world, and the most 
flourishing Moslem communities are under the 
protection of Great Britain. Let us crush the 
British Empire and share the spoils between us. 



212 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Leave me to deal with Christendom ; give me 
Constantinople and the highway I need through 
Mesopotamia to the East, then I will make you 
rulers of a Moslem Empire greater than any of 
which you have ever dreamed. Cairo will make you 
an ideal capital ; it is surrounded by Moslem lands, 
it is near the sacred cities of Mecca, Medina, 
Jerusalem, and Damascus, it stands in the centre 
of the Moslem world. There is wealth in Egypt, the 
Suez Canal is a gold mine, the Khedive will help us, 
but we must first crush England ; together we can do 
it, for I have the guns and you have the Khalifate. 
Raise the standard of Islam, stir up the frenzy of a 
' Holy War/ slay and spare not, for when the war is 
holy, murder and robbery are no longer crimes." 

Instead, however, of the anticipated revolution, 
we had that marvellous response of loyalty from 
India which astonished the world ; the tables were 
turned upon our enemies. The Moslem world was 
certainly up in arms, but it rose to defend us ; 
princes and chiefs filled our Red Cross coffers with 
munificent gifts, issued friendly proclamations, and 
sent hundreds of thousands of Moslem troops to 
the different theatres of war to fight for England's 
cause. On the very day the British Indian troops 
landed at Marseilles, a beautiful poem appeared in 
The Times which told us why our Moslem subjects 
were with us when Germany told the Sultan they 
would surely be against us. It was written by Nawab 
Nizamut Jung, the distinguished Indian Judge of 
the High Court of Hyderabad, who in a private 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 213 

letter said : " The object of the poem is to give 
expression to the real sentiments of the more 
cultured among the Indians towards a nation to 
whom they owe all that is best in life." 

INDIA TO ENGLAND. 
O England ! in thine hour of need, 
When Faith's reward and Valour's meed 

Is death or glory ; 
When fate indites, with biting brand, 
Clasped in each warrior's stiff 'ning hand, 

A Nation's story ; 
Though weak our hands, which fain would clasp 
The warrior's sword with warrior's grasp, 

On Victory's field ; 
Yet turn, O mighty Mother ! turn 
Unto the million hearts that burn 

To be thy shield ! 

Thine equal justice, mercy, grace, 
Have made a distant alien race 

A part of thee ! 
'Twas thine to bid their souls rejoice, 
When first they heard the living voice 

Of Liberty ! 

Unmindful of their ancient name, 
Their fathers' honour, glory, fame, 

And sunk in strife 
Thou found 'st them, whom thy touch hath made 
Men, and to whom thy breath conveyed 

A nobler life ! 

They, whom thy love hath guarded long, 
They, whom thy care hath rendered strong 

In love and faith, 
Their heart-strings round thy heart entwine ; 
They are, they ever will be thine, 

In life in death ! 



214 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

When the Maharajah of Bikanir came to 
London to receive the freedom of the City, he 
said : 

" Those who will say that India is held by the 
power of the sword do a grave injustice to Britain 
and to India. No ; British rule in India rests on 
much firmer foundations than force. It is based 
on principles of justice and equity; humanity and 
fair play. The most wondrous jewel of the British 
Crown is held through the loyalty and devotion 
of the people of my country, through the deep- 
rooted affection and gratitude of millions of loyal 
and grateful hearts." 

Another well-known Indian also wrote in the 
Observer the following striking words : 

" The Imperial patriotism of India's 70,000,000 
Moslems shines resplendently against the black 
background of the Young Turkish folly. Con- 
fronted with the one of the most painful dilemmas 
in the annals of any community, they did not falter 
in their duty to the Empire. On ground strewn 
with their sacred shrines, thousands of them did 
not hesitate for a moment to fight against men of 
their own religion, carrying the banner of the Caliph 
of Islam. No community within the Empire had 
to pass through so fierce a trial or has stood the test 
so well." 

The greatest conflict of the centuries turned out 
after all to be a " Holy War," though in a different 
sense from what was intended by Germany when she 
raised the standard of a Moslem Jehad. It was 



MESOPOTAMIA AND MECCA 215 

a war for great principles, for the liberties we 
love, the heritage of our forefathers. It was a 
struggle between new and barbarous conceptions 
of " Kultur " and the well-known refinements of 
Christendom. 



CHAPTER XIII 

MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 

I shall never forget my first introduction to the 
traditional site of man's primeval Paradise. I was 
standing upon the deck of a British steamer pro- 
ceeding northwards from Basra to Baghdad when 
the captain exclaimed : "Mr Parfit, this is the 
beginning of your new parish. There is the 
Euphrates coming down on our left, and here is 
the Tigris on the right, while before us we behold 
Kurna, the traditional site of the Garden of Eden." 
My heart sank within me, for I noticed that the 
buildings on shore consisted only of mud dwellings, 
and I was sadly disillusioned. I observed to the 
captain : "If this is the Garden of Eden portion 
of my parish, what will the rest of it be like ? " My 
attention was drawn to a tall flag-staff, by the side 
of which was a temporary structure of reed mats. 
The captain informed me that it was the Town Hall 
of the Garden of Eden, and the governor or 
" mayor " had but one duty to perform : he collected 
a tax that was levied upon every fruit-bearing palm. 
There was a bright green nubbak tree farther along 

216 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 217 

the bank, " which," said the captain, " the pilgrims 
believe is the Tree of Knowledge in the midst of 
the Garden ; but I don't mind telling you that my 
father planted it thirty years ago." 

The people seemed desperately poor ; they cried 
out to us, as the steamer passed, to throw them a 
little food on the shore, and the passengers hurled 
bread and oranges from the deck of the steamer. 
The inhabitants are not genuine Arabs, but belong 
to a degraded class known as the Maadanis. 
They were miserably clad, and the children clothed 
in nothing more than sesame oil and a smile. 
Those who knew Mesopotamia under the Turk 
could sympathise with the exclamation of one of 
our British Tommies. When our troops were 
encamped at Kurna, after a disturbed, sleepless 
night, he exclaimed to his fellow in the tent : 
" Oh, Bill, I don't know how Adam and Eve got 
on in this place with all these mosquitoes buzzing 
about." "No, indeed," said Bill, " it wouldn't take 
a flaming sword to drive me out of the Garden of 
Eden." A Sheffield soldier who had been serving in 
Mesopotamia was asked how he liked the country, 
and replied : " They actually called it the Garden of 
Eden, but you give me Shuffield ! " There was no 
such thing as a paradise in Mesopotamia under 
the Ottoman Turk, though from the luxuriant 
vegetation, the abundance of water, the heat of the 
climate, and the size of the fig-leaves it was un- 
doubtedly an ideal place for our remote ancestors. 

Mesopotamia was an entomologists' paradise, 



218 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

for nothing seemed to flourish so profusely as the 
vermin and insect life. An officer wrote home from 
Kut describing the enormous scorpions that were 
seen in the trenches. " A great black thing," he 
said, " walked in with what looked like a young 
scorpion on its back, which proved to be its spiked 
tail bent over ready for action." In Baghdad we 
used to hear the scorpions scrambling about in 
our " serdabs " at night, and we had to be careful 
when descending to the lower parts of the house 
in the dark. We bottled sixty specimens one 
winter. One of our servants was stung on his bare 
feet as he was hurrying up the stairs when we had 
visitors to dinner. He dropped the basin of soup, 
and howled for an hour as though he was being 
murdered. 

Our church services were held in a large " serdab," 
or semi-underground basement, and one morning, 
just after the starting of a hymn, one of the men 
came forward to tell me there was a scorpion just 
over my head. We stopped the service for a few 
minutes while the odious creature was being 
removed with the aid of a pair of tongs and a 
dustpan. On another occasion a carpenter was 
assisting me to prepare my outfit for a long overland 
journey. The bell tent was unpacked, and as I was 
adjusting the central pole into the socket a sleepy 
scorpion crawled out and stung my hand. The 
carpenter immediately sent off his boy to fetch a 
kind of cactus leaf, which I vigorously rubbed over 
the wound, and was quickly relieved from the 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 219 

intense pain. Our doctors have met with fatal 
cases amongst small children, resulting from a 
scorpion's sting. 

I was sitting reading one evening in my drawing- 
room when a centipede crawled out of the garden- 
pot by my side ; and on another occasion, as I was 
getting into bed, a centipede fell out of the blanket. 
We have often caught them crawling up the walls 
of the dining-room ; but the scorpions could only 
be found in the darkest corners of the lower rooms, 
and if placed in the sun they would run round and 
round in a circle and apparently sting themselves 
to death. Mosquitoes were numerous enough, but 
the sand-flies were everywhere ; the common 
house-fly attacked you in battalions, and a species 
that greatly resembled it was gifted with a more 
piercing bite than the average mosquito. Someone 
has truly said that " the tiniest little insect in 
Mesopotamia night and day faithfully does its 
bit." When, in summer, according to custom, we 
dined upon the roof of the house, our table was 
often covered with a multitude of winged insects, 
varying in size from the largest beetle to the 
smallest may-fly. 

One strange result of the continuous floods was 
the plague of frogs. They literally swarmed by 
the million in the swamps and pools. They were 
possessed of an astonishing Variety of voices, so that 
you could hear their squeaking, squealing, singing, 
and croaking long before you came in sight of the 
reeds or could smell the odours of their watery home. 



\ 



220 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

Mesopotamia has an evil name amongst medical 
specialists as being the home of the bubonic plague, 
which has often spread to other lands from these 
dreaded regions. Our British Mission doctors were 
the only medical men who dared, on three separate 
occasions within twenty years, when the Turks 
fled from the city, to stay behind and grapple with 
the desolating ravages of cholera. I once accom- 
' panied our doctor to a large village near Mosul, 
where he found 60 per cent, of the villagers suffering 
from ophthalmia, and at least 10 per cent, of them 
had lost their sight. There was not a single munici- 
pal hospital or dispensary in the whole vilayet. 

I have often listened to the bitterest complaints 
launched by all sections of the population against 
the Turkish tax-collectors. A village was ordered 
to pay one-tenth of its produce to the Government. 
The tax-collectors, with their escort, were billeted 
on the villagers for weeks. Worthless receipts 
were frequently foisted upon the chiefs, figures and 
dates were constantly tampered with by Govern- 
ment clerks, with the net result that the greater 
part of the village produce was appropriated by the 
tax-collectors, and the amount that was left to the 
villagers was barely sufficient to clothe them in 
rags and to enable them to keep body and soul 
together. 

I was standing one day on the top of a high 
mound in the midst of the ruins at Niffer, when the 
excavator by my side pointed out to me a little 
battle that was taking place in the distance. One 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 221 

of the Arab tribes from the south was raiding 
another Arab tribe from the north, and thousands 
of sheep were being driven back behind the front 
line of the marauders. This was a reprisal raid for 
what had happened a fortnight before, when the 
northern tribe had raided the southerners and suc- 
ceeded in stealing about thirty of their camels. 
The excavator assured me that these incidents were 
of common occurrence in the central plains of 
Mesopotamia. There was no security for life and 
property, no government outside the big towns, 
and no attempt to exercise authority for the 
preservation of law and order. On my return 
journey from Niffer to Diwanieh the Zaptiah guards 
preceded us in some places with their rifles presented 
at the bushes on both sides of the road, ready to 
receive a surprise attack from concealed tribesmen. 
On the previous day a Turkish official returning 
from Niffer had been stripped bare of all his posses- 
sions by these irrepressible robbers. 

On this same journey, when I was returning from 
the holy city of Nejif to the town of Kufa, on the 
banks of the Euphrates, I saw six stalwart robbers 
sallying forth to attack a caravan that was known 
to be on its way to the shrine. One of the robbers 
caught hold of a lad who was driving a donkey, 
flung him aside, and made off with his prize. The 
lad screamed after him, " Don't steal my donkey ; 
it is all I have in the world, and I have to support 
my widowed mother. Don't steal my donkey ! " 
A Zaptiah guard was riding by my side, so I quickly 



222 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

drew his attention to the robbery ; but, with a shrug 
of his shoulders, he said he dared not interfere with 
those men, for they belonged to a gang of some 
forty robbers who shared their spoils with the 
Turkish officials. I started off at a gallop, caught 
up the robber, threatened him with a whipping, 
and was able to deliver back the donkey to the 
grateful boy. 

Early one morning, whilst struggling through an 
Arabic lesson with my very fat, dreary pundit, we 
were startled by a tremendous amount of screaming 
and shouting from the direction of the river Tigris. 
I flung my book into the lap of my learned tormentor 
and rushed to the window of my study, just in time 
to catch sight of the old Baghdad pontoon bridge, 
which had broken away from its moorings and was 
tearing down the Tigris with a group of howling 
pedestrians upon it. The river had risen quite 
rapidly during the night ; the force of the current 
had broken the chains and was carrying away the 
bridge at a speed of about seven miles an hour. 
It came to a standstill at the end of the reach, where 
the terrified passengers were able to escape by 
wading to the shore. At the request of the Wali 
governor, the captain of one of the British steamers 
got up steam and went down the river to tow back 
the runaway bridge. It was a very dilapidated old 
thing, full of holes and worn-out planks, so that 
accidents were frequently reported, and to cross the 
Tigris by the bridge of boats was more dangerous 
to equestrians or heavily laden porters than a 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 223 

short voyage from bank to bank in the curious 
Baghdad coracles. 

An enterprising governor at length decided to 
raise a fund for the construction of a new bridge, 
so he set to work in accordance with the well- 
established traditions of Turkish administrators. 
He mustered his military officers, police officials, 
and tax-collectors; he gave them authority to 
scour the villages with whips and thongs, to beat 
the poor, threaten the rich, imprison the obstinate ; 
to help themselves to all they might need for 
commission or incidental expenses, and to bring 
back plenty of wood, with a goodly sum of money, 
for the construction of the new pontoon bridge. 

By compulsory deductions from the salaries of 
all Government officials and by every kind of ex- 
tortion the governor succeeded in collecting about 
40,000 of so-called " voluntary contributions/' 
He spent about 4000 on the labour and material 
he was obliged to pay for, and pocketed the rest 
for his arduous labours in connection with this most 
beneficent undertaking. 

When the bridge was completed, a special day 
was appointed for a grand opening ceremony, to 
which all the leading citizens were invited. Every 
corner of the bridge was bedecked with Turkish 
flags, and inharmonious bands blared away 
furiously from sunrise to sunset. In the early 
morning of this great festival a telegram arrived 
from Constantinople announcing the deposition of 
the governor, forbidding him to take part in the 



224 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

festival, and commanding the General of the Forces 
to conduct the opening ceremonies. The governor 
had perhaps offended too many influential people 
by excessive exactions, and no doubt his superiors 
were informed of the immense profits he had recently 
been accumulating, so it was evidently a favourable 
time to appease the victims of his oppression and 
to recall him to Constantinople, where he would have 
to disgorge before securing another appointment. 

Three days after this great festival the ex- 
governor was starting off with his caravan for the 
overland journey to the capital, when he was 
molested by a number of courageous citizens who 
began to steal back from the deposed governor 
the horses, mules, and other " presents " which he 
had extorted from them in the form of bribes. 
They succeeded after a scuffle in getting back some 
of their property, and the discomfited governor 
hurried away before other citizens should get wind 
of his departure. 

The great cities of Baghdad and Basra were 
formerly surrounded by ramparts erected as a 
protection against the Arab tribes who perpetually 
maintained a state of war with the Turkish Govern- 
ment all the time it was established in Mesopotamia. 
Midhat Pasha was a great Turkish reformer, who 
unsuccessfully attempted to revive the waning 
fortunes of the Ottoman Empire, and in spite of 
his large army corps at Baghdad failed to subdue 
the Arabs or secure their friendship. He de- 
molished the ramparts around Baghdad, and was 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 225 

obliged to sell the bricks in order to provide the pay 
for his rebellious soldiery. The dilapidated bastion 
at the south gate and the miserably dirty moat 
around the city were all that remained in 19 14 of 
the old Turkish defences. A still more interesting 
monument which the Turks left behind was to be 
seen in Basra. When the ramparts of the native 
town were removed, there was one old-fashioned 
piece of artillery mounted high upon a corner of 
the thick mud walls. The Turkish governor con- 
cluded it would be too expensive and too difficult 
to remove, so the unsightly mass remained, and 
became an object of reverence and worship for 
the superstitious villagers who passed it whenever 
they brought their produce to the Basra bazaars. 
The monuments that commemorate the Ottoman 
dynasty are so few and are so rapidly disappearing 
that one feels justified in recording one's indelible 
impressions of Mesopotamia in the golden prime 
of the gentle Turk. 

Many of the pre-war peculiarities of the country 
will fortunately survive the expulsion of the Turk, 
though even the climate may undergo some 
modification when the barren wastes have been 
transformed into fertile fields. 

The " ark of bulrushes " is still to be seen at 
Baghdad. The cauldron-shaped river craft called 
" guff as " are constructed of branches of the date 
palm covered with bitumen. They are very cleverly 
plied, sometimes by two oarsmen, one rowing 
one way and one the other ; but if by one man, 

15 



226 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

then he must ply the oar first in one direction and 
then in the other, or else the coracle would go round 
and round without making any progress. 

Most of the busy streets where trade was carried 
on were covered with bricked arches or reed matting 
to protect the open-fronted shops from the glare 
and heat of the sun. The labyrinth of bazaars at 
Baghdad was more famous, more interesting, and 
more Oriental than any of the streets of Damascus. 

In accordance with the Moslem religion, the 
Arabs are forbidden to indulge in intoxicating 
liquors, so they meet together in the coffee-houses 
for the purpose of sipping small cups of coffee, 
smoking their narghilehs, gossiping with their 
friends, or playing at chess, dominoes, and dice. 
Some of the arabesque work on the chimney-pieces 
around the open grates, where the coffee is stewed 
in a variety of beaked copper pots, is extremely 
well executed. 

The climate of Mesopotamia is better on the whole 
than that of the greater part of India, though the 
intense heat of the summer is notorious. The 
average maximum temperature was officially regis- 
tered as 122 F. in the shade, and it dropped in the 
winter to a minimum at night of 14 below freezing- 
point. On one occasion a terrific hailstorm reduced 
the temperature in four hours by twenty degrees, 
and some of the hailstones measured two inches in 
diameter. 

The heat at Basra is almost as damp and un- 
pleasant as the heat of Bombay, but at Baghdad 



MESOPOTAMIA UNDER THE TURKS 227 

the summer heat is probably as dry as the atmo- 
sphere of the Soudan. The thermometer at Mosul 
often registered ten degrees lower than the tem- 
perature at Baghdad, but the city itself is unpleas- 
antly hot, especially at night. The streets are 
narrow and the houses are built of a grey, porous 
marble which seems to retain the heat for a much 
longer time after sunset than the mud walls and 
brick buildings of Baghdad. 

The inhabitants of Baghdad always made use of 
a Turkish word when referring to the so-called 
desert around the city. It was commonly known 
as " Chole," which means a wilderness or desert 
place ; but the people of Mosul always used the 
Arabic word " Rabia " = spring, or verdure, to 
describe the surrounding country. This choice 
of words appropriately expressed the difference 
between the undulating green pasture-lands of 
Assyria and the flat, parched plains of Babylonia. 
There are very few olive trees in Mesopotamia, but 
extensive fields of millet and sesame are to be found 
everywhere ; the poorer Arabs extracted oil from 
sesame and used it for their lamps. Rice is cul- 
tivated along the banks of the Khabur, and more 
extensively in the marsh-lands near the lower 
reaches of the Euphrates. 

A curious feature of the soil in some districts 
around Mosul is the enormous quantity of truffles 
it contains. It is only necessary to scratch the 
ground for an inch or two anywhere, and the 
truffles can easily be found. Hemp and tobacco 



228 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

are cultivated in considerable quantities. Vast 
areas are covered with wild liquorice, a rough 
species of thyme, and the caperberry bushes. The 
sumach is a favourite tree of great commercial 
value ; the white poplar is chiefly grown for the 
purpose of providing beams for the roofs of houses ; 
the willow trees and the tamarisk grow plenti- 
fully by the waterside. There is no place like 
Mesopotamia for dates, melons, and cucumbers. 
I have seen two water-melons large enough to make 
a small donkey-load, and I once measured a cucum- 
ber a yard and a half long. There are plenty of 
oranges, sweet limes, lemons, pomegranates, quinces, 
loquots, and small quantities of almost every kind 
of fruit, nuts, and vegetables to be found in Western 
lands. 

The bird life of Mesopotamia was particularly 
interesting. There were large quantities of quail, 
snipe, partridges, bustards, sand-grouse, wild ducks 
and geese, immense flocks of black crows, and an 
equal number of storks. I have also seen pelicans, 
flamingoes, and herons in the south, great quantities 
of ring-doves at Baghdad, plenty of beautiful jays, 
and a great variety of smaller birds. There was 
not much in the way of animal life beyond a few 
hyenas, wolves, gazelles, foxes, and wild boar ; 
but the nights were made hideous by the yelping 
of innumerable jackals. 

Mesopotamia was always a fascinating country in 
spite of the Ottoman Turk, who did his best to make 
it one of the most desolate places on earth. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE LAND OF FLOODS 

The late Dr Driver believed that " the true origin 
of the Biblical narrative of the flood is to be found 
in the Babylonian story " discovered at Nineveh 
by George Smith in 1872. The story evidently 
assumed a Hebrew complexion and became a 
symbolical embodiment of ethical and religious 
truth. It marks a new epoch in the early history 
of mankind. A judicial motive is assigned for 
it ; it becomes a judgment upon corrupt and de- 
generate mankind. Noah, on the other hand, is 
the type of a righteous man a man worthy of the 
seal of God's approval. Rescued from the flood 
of waters, he becomes the second father of humanity, 
and inaugurates for it a new era. 

Mesopotamia has often been described by British 
soldiers as a land of floods and mud. The floods 
have disappeared with the exit of the Turks, but 
the mud remains. Some of the floods were ordinary 
inundations, some were extraordinary, and some 
were unnatural in the sense that they were brought 
about by evil intent or by ignorance and carelessness. 

229 



230 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

The country was liable to ordinary floods every 
springtime with the melting of the snows on the 
mountains of Armenia and Kurdistan, when certain 
districts of Lower Mesopotamia were invariably 
inundated. 

In 1830 the plague which carried away half the 
population of Baghdad was followed by a fearful 
flood that destroyed 7000 houses in one night, and 
it was estimated that 15,000 people perished. In 
1896 an exceptional rise in the river broke down 
the banks of the Tigris above Baghdad and flooded 
about 400 square miles of land around the city. 
It was strange to see so many sailing-ships on the 
" desert," when the Persian caravans were conveyed 
in boats for miles across the flood. The " serdabs " 
of the Baghdad houses contained five or six feet of 
water, and 1200 of the smaller houses collapsed. 
My own house on the river bank was substantially 
built, with walls that in places were six feet thick, but 
it developed a crack from top to bottom. While 
it was being repaired I took a holiday and went on 
a trip to Basra in the river steamer. I well remem- 
ber noticing that in some places the villagers suffered 
terribly by the ravages of the floods, losing all their 
sheep and oxen, and clinging for dear life to some 
small mound that preserved them from the rising 
waters. Many of them were taken on board the 
river steamer as we went by, and they told us how 
large numbers of their people had been drowned 
by the inundations. At times it was impossible 
to see land of any sort on either side of the river, as 



THE LAND OF FLOODS 231 

the flat country was covered with water as far as 
the eye could reach, and I wondered how the 
navigating officers could distinguish the main 
channel of the stream. Mesopotamia was, in fact, 
transformed into Katopotamia, for in many places 
the two great rivers had joined together. More 
than a million date palms in the vilayet of Basra 
were destroyed by that flood. 

It is a curious fact that a similar extraordinary 
inundation took place in November 1914, immedi- 
ately after the declaration of war with Turkey and 
on the very night that the British residents in 
Baghdad were interned by the authority of the 
Wali governor. The British prisoners were all 
taken to the Residency, and that night their sleep 
was disturbed by many distressing noises in the 
town. Sir John Jackson's chief engineer was one 
of the prisoners. He was aroused from his slum- 
bers by a Turkish official, a carriage was provided 
for him, and he was taken around the ramparts by 
the authorities, who begged him to tell them what 
could be done. He could only reply that they had 
asked for his advice when it was too late. They 
had received telegraphic warning from Mosul that 
heavy rains had fallen and an exceptionally high 
rise of the river was on its way, but nothing had 
been done until the river had burst through the 
banks. The desert was covered with water, the 
gardens were flooded, and houses were tumbling 
down on every side, whilst the inhabitants were 
scrambling forth into the streets with what little 



232 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

possessions they could rescue from destruction. 
The next morning there was great lamentation in 
the city of Baghdad, and the superstitious quickly 
declared that it was a judgment upon the authori- 
ties for interning the British residents and for fight- 
ing against their friends the English. 

The Turks, aided by German engineers, utilised 
the rivers of Mesopotamia as a powerful weapon 
for waging war against us. They would hardly 
neglect such an opportunity for offence and defence, 
and they were no doubt responsible for the " ex- 
ceptional floods " we heard about when our troops 
were fighting for Kut '1 Amara, since for fifteen 
years the German surveyors had been marking 
out every feature of these battlefields in Lower 
Mesopotamia. 

In 1898 I started out with a caravan from 
Baghdad in the month of April, to travel along the 
busy pilgrim road to Babylon and Kerbela, intend- 
ing to halt for the night at a well-known khan 
five hours' distance from the city. After about 
three hours' travelling we found the road was 
blocked by a flood which compelled us to make a 
detour that lengthened our journey by four hours, 
and our destination could only be reached by crossing 
a rough pontoon bridge hastily constructed by the 
considerate Turks for the benefit of the thousands 
of pilgrims who had to pass that way. We were 
getting ravenously hungry, as our food was locked 
up in the mule-panniers that were securely tied 
on the backs of the baggage animals. We did not 



THE LAND OF FLOODS 233 

anticipate such a long journey, and dared not stop 
to unpack our mules lest we should be benighted 
upon a road infested with robbers ; so we were 
deeply gratified when we espied the bridge, and, 
without the slightest demur, we quickly paid the 
heavy toll levied by polite Turkish officials and 
breathed a deep sigh of relief when we found our- 
selves safe at last on the other side of the flood. 
What wonderful people these Turks are ! how polite 
when they rob you ! We were actually blessing 
them for making that bridge when we heard a 
group of Arabs cursing them for having created the 
flood. The Turks knew the river was rising, and 
the pilgrim season was in full swing, so they made a 
breach in the banks of the Euphrates and flooded a 
depression within twenty miles of the Tigris. They 
constructed a bridge for a few hundred liras, and 
reaped thousands of pounds profit by the tolls 
taken from the pilgrims, besides sharing the spoils 
with the robbers who stripped the travellers who 
were benighted along the roads. 

The deep, soft mud of the rainy season, the 
slippery roads and slimy marshes that remained 
when the floods had subsided, seriously impeded all 
pedestrian traffic and made our military operations 
peculiarly trying and difficult. But there was some 
consolation in the fact that, when the river was high, 
the oozing of the waters through the soft soil had 
the effect of driving the ill-clad Turks from their 
flooded trenches. The " Nazeez " is an interesting 
feature of the Mesopotamian lowlands. Small lakes 



234 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

and numerous pools will quite suddenly arise out 
of the earth like a mirage, and, in answer to your 
question as to where it comes from, the Arab will 
simply tell you it is the " Nazeez," which appears in 
the springtime with the rise of the river. He 
cannot explain that it percolates from the Tigris 
through the subsoil, and appears above the surface 
wherever the land is lower than the level of the 
river. This phenomenon was probably as much 
responsible for the flooding of the Turkish trenches 
at Senna-i-yat as the north-west wind referred to 
in General Lake's dispatch. 

The best drinking-water in Mesopotamia is the 
muddiest. I do not mean that it is the mud which 
gives it its quality and flavour, but what I mean is 
that, because the whole of the drinking-water of 
Mesopotamia is obtained from the Euphrates and 
Tigris, this water is at its best when the rivers are 
rising, just after heavy rains. The current is then 
swift, the pollutions are quickly carried away, and 
the water, though the colour of pea-soup, is far 
less dangerous than when, in the autumn, it looks 
beautifully clear. Every household in Old Baghdad 
was provided with a large water -jar of somewhat 
porous clay. The river water was emptied into 
the jar, the muddy sediment settled to the bottom, 
a small jar beneath caught the drippings from 
the larger jar, and provided the family with spark- 
ling, cool water direct from the old-established 
Baghdad waterworks. 

The whole of Mesopotamia at certain seasons of 



THE LAND OF FLOODS 235 

the year is a mass of mud, and after, a good shower 
of rain the streets of Baghdad were impassable 
for pedestrians. The Europeans generally hired 
donkeys to take them through the mud from their 
homes to their offices. An English merchant told 
me one day that he had been calling upon a saga- 
cious Consul-General who, after a lengthy discussion 
on a small matter of business, was anxious to get 
rid of his visitor. He suddenly turned the conver- 
sation to the subject of the mud. " Really," said 
the Consul, "is it true that the streets are so 
appalling ? I have not seen them. Let us go and 
look at them." So the two walked out of the office, 
past the military guard, to the gate of the Consulate. 
" Terrible, terrible ! " exclaimed the Consul ; " how- 
ever did you get here ? Oh, this is your donkey, 
of course a sturdy beast. Let me help you on, and 
a safe journey to you through this awful mud ! 
Good-bye good-bye ! " 

On another occasion, after a week's confinement 
to the house through heavy rain, the sun shone 
gloriously in the afternoon, and the doctor and I 
decided to go for a walk. The middle of the road 
was still a mass of deep, watery mud, but a very 
narrow path had been trodden down on either side ; 
so we crawled along by the walls of the houses, aided, 
by our walking-sticks and the doctor's servant. 
Presently we reached a spot where the path dis- 
appeared and the mud for fifty yards was knee-deep. 
We saw it was better further on, so the servant, with 
bare legs, offered to carry us across on his back. 



236 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

I urged the doctor to go first, and when the servant 
reached the middle of the morass the burden and 
the mud together were too much for him and he 
began to totter. The doctor besought him to stand 
still and called to me for help. I was so convulsed 
with laughter at the sight of the doctor doubled up 
on the back of a tottering Arab in the midst of a 
sea of mud that I could think of no way of rescuing 
him. When I recovered a little I ran back and 
found two bare -legged Arabs, who relieved the ser- 
vant of his burden and afterwards carried me to 
the other side. We returned another way by a 
slightly better road. 

A much more serious incident occurred when 
I was travelling a few miles north of Baghdad. 
Three Zaptiahs were escorting our small caravan to 
a village where we were to spend the night, and one 
of them suggested a short cut that would save us 
a journey of an hour and a half. The others 
protested that the mud swamp which intervened 
was impassable, but the Zaptiah said he knew a 
path, and persisted in making a trial while we skirted 
the swamp and clung to firmer ground. Ere long 
we saw in the distance our venturesome friend 
sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, and one of 
our Zaptiahs galloped off to the village to find help 
to rescue him. It took them nearly all night to 
extricate him, but his horse had to be abandoned, 
and it perished in the bog. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 

" A magic wand/' wrote an officer from Baghdad, 
" has apparently been waved over the once dreary 
wilderness of Mesopotamia, for the most remarkably 
rapid transformation ever witnessed on earth has 
taken place in the land of Irak." 

More than twenty years ago I was lost for four 
hours on one of the great swamps near the lower 
reaches of the Euphrates. I was travelling in a 
small open boat which my Arab boatman dexter- 
ously punted along the narrow waterways between 
the tall reeds. At one end of his punting rod he 
had fixed a three-pronged spear, with which he 
cleverly caught the fish that can always be seen 
near the surface of these shallow, muddy marshes. 
He became so excited in chasing some rather lively 
specimens that, just before sunset, he lost his bear- 
ings in the swamp. We had a somewhat terrifying 
experience for the next few hours, punting our way 
in pitch darkness, until at length we emerged from 
the reeds and found a foothold for the night on a 
little island that contained a village of reed huts. 

237 



238 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

It was in these neglected swamps that British 
troops fought their amphibious battles. Thou- 
sands of native " heliums " had to be constructed 
and covered with armour plate. They were fre- 
quently carried shoulder-high, as the troops ad- 
vanced from one swamp to another, and ofttimes 
the soldiers were obliged to wade for miles knee- 
deep in mud or up to their armpits in water. 
Immediately after the capture of Kut '1 Amara 
thousands of labourers and artisans were brought 
from India, who, with many thousands of Arabs, 
were employed in repairing the banks of the great 
rivers and draining the swamps, with the result that 
there have been no floods in Lower Mesopotamia 
since the British occupation of Baghdad. A huge 
embankment twenty miles long was constructed 
not far from Basra to protect an area of forty-eight 
square miles where, with the aid of hundreds of 
professional farmers and gardeners from Madras, 
wheat-fields, vegetable gardens, dairy farms, and 
poultry farms began to nourish in a verdant plain, 
which, until a year before, had been a malarious 
swamp for centuries. The great new embank- 
ments at Zubeir and Shaiba protect the Arab date 
gardens and so enormously benefit the landowners 
of a district that was annually inundated by floods. 
A considerable extension of the date groves is now 
possible, and profitable vegetable gardens already 
flourish in the new date plantations. 

There are nearly two hundred varieties of dates in 
Mesopotamia, and the most luscious kinds cannot 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 239 

possibly be shipped to Europe. Those of the poorest 
quality are exported in mass for the distilleries of 
the West, while some better-quality dates have 
recently been utilised for the manufacture of sugar. 

A perfectly wonderful transformation has taken 
place at the port of Basra. Under the Turkish 
administration a vast amount of time was wasted 
by the primitive methods employed in discharging 
the cargoes of the ocean-going steamers. These 
were obliged to anchor in mid-stream while native 
boats came alongside into which the goods were 
gradually discharged and leisurely carried to the 
Custom House. The wearisome process of going 
to and fro with small loads generally occupied 
eight or nine days before all the cargo was dis- 
charged and the ship reloaded. Now, however, 
there are miles upon miles of magnificent wharves 
fitted with powerful electric moving cranes, so that 
all the large steamers can come alongside to be 
emptied and reladen in as many hours only as it 
took days to deal with one steamer by the methods 
of the old regime. There are a large hospital and 
other fine new buildings at Niameh, below Basra, 
and the port has grown from the Asshar Creek to 
a distance of nearly five miles through Machina to 
Maghil, where a magnificent dockyard, with three 
wet basins and three slipways, was constructed 
for the repair of the large ocean vessels and the 
river steamers, or for the reconstruction of the 
river craft. 

There were no carriage roads in Mesopotamia 



240 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

when I lived there, except one in Basra, where a 
beginning was made by the Turks ; but for years 
the road remained blocked at both ends by the 
mud walls of the Arab date gardens. Hundreds of 
miles of metalled roads have now been constructed 
all over the country, and Basra can boast of many 
excellent carriage roads and of one magnificent 
concrete road four and a half miles long that joins 
Basra to Maghil. Electric cars are running, there 
is a telephone system larger than that of Bombay, 
and electric light has been installed in all the Tigris 
cities. This last improvement is not a piece of 
military extravagance, as some have supposed, for 
the light has been supplied to the inhabitants of 
Baghdad, for example, at a price which makes 
lighting by electricity cheaper than by the oil which 
was formerly obtained from the refinery at Abadan, 
and the installations have proved to be com- 
mercially profitable. 

The town Arabs of the great cities are now 
taking kindly to factory life, for in addition to the 
oil refinery, the dockyards, and the repairing sheds, 
there are ice factories and soda-water factories in 
all the big towns, also cloth mills and clothing 
factories at Baghdad and Basra, which turned out 
most of the khaki that was worn by the troops and 
the labour corps in Mesopotamia. 

The much-needed sanitation was speedily taken 
in hand, and the sanitary inspector from the city of 
Exeter transformed the dirty streets of Baghdad 
into wholesome thoroughfares and banished the 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 241 

poisonous smells that formerly guided a stranger 
to the gate of the Government Serai. An anti-fly 
crusade was carried on with such marked success 
that in 191 9 I was told by an officer from Meso- 
potamia that there was hardly a fly to be seen in 
Basra. When this information reached me I was 
in the city of Cairo, where a callous municipality 
still dumps its rubbish near the Kasr-1-Nil barracks, 
and where every Effendi carries a fly-flip to protect 
him from the most pernicious plague of Egypt. 
We have never had a free hand in Egypt, and 
Mesopotamia can now give points to the village 
Omdehs of the Nile valley. Some time ago I was 
presented with a poetic alphabet on Mesopotamia, 
one verse of which expresses the opinion of our 
troops before the inception of the anti-fly crusade : 

J is the Jam, with the label that lies, 
And says that in Paris it took the first prize ; 
But out here we use it for catching the flies 
That abound in Mesopotamia. 

These magical performances of the Civil Com- 
missioner began at Basra, but the same great work 
of reconstruction tarried not, as in Western lands, 
for the cessation of hostilities ; it followed hard 
behind the victorious armies under General Maude. 

At Kut 1 Amara a young " political officer " 
collected all the skilled masons who had been 
employed by the Germans on their Baghdad 
"railroad of death" and speedily constructed an 
imposing colonnade bazaar along the river front. 

16 



242 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

He re-roofed the dilapidated bazaars, repaired the 
mosques, erected baths, flour-mills, and ice fac- 
tories; made new roads, widened and named the 
old narrow streets, so that Townshend Road, 
Delamain Road, Norfolk Street, and the like 
preserve to-day the glorious memory of its brave 
defenders. Every shoal or mud-bank in the Tigris 
was converted into a vegetable garden, and while 
the women pounded rice or winnowed the corn 
their menfolk were being drilled by an Arab 
sergeant to English words of command. The 
only excitement in the old days for the inhabitants 
of Amara was the weekly arrival of the river 
steamboats, but immediately after the British 
occupation this little town became one of the 
busiest places on the Tigris. British officers called 
it the " Brighton of Mesopotamia," for the fine 
river front of well-built, uniform houses, with its 
popular Parade, presented an imposing appearance, 
and it became recognised as the most delightful 
place on the river. The old port was deepened 
and enlarged, and, in order to prevent the Tigris 
water from being wasted in the Jehaila Canal, the 
badly constructed entrance was considerably im- 
proved. Thousands of Arabs and Sabeans obtained 
employment in the enormous repairing sheds, where 
all kinds of motors, trucks, ambulances, aeroplanes, 
and locomotives were undergoing repairs. The 
MacMunn Bridge at Amara is one of the finest of 
the many new bridges constructed in Mesopotamia. 
It is 750 feet long, and the movable central portion 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 243 

can be opened or closed in four and a half minutes. 
There were only five bridges over the Diala River 
and only one in Basra when I lived in Mesopotamia ; 
now every creek in Basra has been bridged, the 
Royal Engineers have thrown 75 new bridges 
across the Diala, and over 200 new bridges have 
been constructed across the rivers and creeks of 
Mesopotamia. 

Some of the most striking changes are noticeable 
upon the tortuous Tigris, now no longer dismal and 
dangerous as heretofore, but teeming with river 
craft of all kinds ; shallow - draught gunboats 
policing 700 miles of waterways crowded with 
transports, hospital ships, merchant steamers, and 
innumerable motor boats. The British inland 
fleet in 1919 consisted of 331 transport steamers, 
31 hospital vessels, 416 motor boats and motor 
craft, 46 miscellaneous craft, 624 transport barges, 
and 162 special barges. In pre-war days there 
were only six or seven steamers upon the river, 
whereas in 1919 there were 824 vessels flying the 
British flag, and 786 barges. It is estimated that the 
goods landed by the Turks in 1913 at the Baghdad 
Custom House did not exceed a daily average of 
100 tons, whereas in 191 9 it was possible for the 
military authorities to land by rail and water 
2400 tons daily at Baghdad. 

The most difficult portion of the river for naviga- 
tion is called " The Narrows," which begin at 
Kalah-Salah, near Ezra's tomb, where many hairpin 
bends of the winding river add to the difficulties 



244 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

created by its extreme narrowness. With the rise 
of the waters in the springtime it frequently 
happened that the whole of this district became 
completely flooded and presented the appearance 
of a great inland sea. The navigators of the river 
steamers found it difficult to keep to the channel 
of the river, and were sometimes able to ignore 
the current and steam straight ahead, with a man 
wading in front to gauge the depth of the water. 
The rise and fall of the Tigris, however, take place 
very rapidly, and a ship which had wandered from 
the river course would run the risk of getting 
stranded and find itself on dry land at some dis- 
tance from the channel. The whole length of these 
difficult " Narrows " is now adequately lighted 
by a special electrical installation, and everything 
possible has been done, here as elsewhere, to 
f acilitate the navigation of the Tigris. The steamers 
now travel up and down this difficult and tortuous 
current with two barges instead of one, with less 
anxiety to the navigator and with much greater 
speed and safety than in former days. 

Every port in the Persian Gulf has profited 
enormously by the revival of trade with Meso- 
potamia. There has been a steady increase in the 
number of sailing-boats visiting Basra, and the 
famous shipbuilding yards of Koweit are striving 
to double their output. Koweit may very possibly 
become the most important port for Mesopotamia, 
as preparations are being made to erect suitable 
accommodation for the largest ocean-going steamers, 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 245 

and plans have been prepared for the construction 
of a railway from Koweit to Basra. A powerful 
suction dredger has attempted to improve the 
channel across the " Bar," where a semaphore 
station has been established at a cost of 5833. 

Owing to the folly of some of the Sultan's 
stewards in charge of his crown lands near the 
Euphrates, the main channel of the great river 
running through Babylon was generally dry in the 
summer months. A magnificent barrage was com- 
pleted just before the outbreak of war by Sir John 
Jackson's engineers, with a view to controlling the 
" Hindiah flood " and supplying water for the ruined 
date gardens of Babylonia. The Turks, however, 
neglected to make use of this barrage, and just 
before the capture of Baghdad they attempted to 
destroy it, but were prevented from doing so by 
the Arabs of Kerbela, who fought against them and 
drove them away. A month later numbers of 
agricultural officials and experts in irrigation 
arrived from India. The difficulty of instructing 
the landowners and peasants in proper methods of 
irrigation was at once taken in hand. Over 100 
neglected canals were cleared of silt and new ones 
made, culverts were constructed, and 300,000 acres 
of fertile soil were scientifically irrigated for the 
first time in the history of Mesopotamia, with the 
remarkable result that a record crop was reaped 
early in the summer, and nearly half a million tons 
of grain became available for the Army and the 
inhabitants of Mesopotamia. In addition to these 



246 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

initial experiments in irrigation, a large area of fertile 
land was subsequently brought under cultivation 
near the banks of the Diala River, on the Khalis 
Canal. 

The cultivators were given every possible en- 
couragement, receiving advances in cash as well as 
credit for the seed that was supplied, the cattle, the 
motor pumps, the ploughs and other implements 
which they needed for their work. These advances 
in 1919 amounted to 143,440, and the report that 
was issued by Sir John Hewett states : " There is 
no ground whatever for the suggestion that Army 
funds were expended with a desire to provide for 
post-war developments : they were uniformly 
expended for the primary object of securing the 
efficiency and comfort of the Army." These 
agricultural experiments saved the British tax- 
payer, in 1918, 143,250 by growing the grain that 
would otherwise have been purchased for the 
Army, and in the same year there was also a saving 
of 121,200 for the chopped straw that had to be 
provided for the transport animals. This wise 
provision for local supplies was a great relief to 
India, where there was a shortage of grain on account 
of the failure of the monsoon of 1918. It also 
released a considerable portion of valuable tonnage, 
it provided for the 80,000 Armenian and Syrian 
refugees encamped near Bakuba, and it saved the 
inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Persia from in- 
evitable famine and consequent starvation. If 
the wise men in Europe had exercised the same 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 247 

amount of foresight as the military spendthrifts 
of Mesopotamia, they would have saved millions of 
lives as well as the millions of pounds spent to bring 
from a distance the food that could easily have 
been grown near at hand. 

There was an immense political advantage in 
bringing some degree of prosperity to the fanatical 
inhabitants of a conquered country. One old 
Arab sheikh was heard to say : " No other govern- 
ment but the British would take the trouble to 
bother about our water supplies while they were 
fighting a big war.'" The official reports also 
declared that the health of the troops was largely 
improved by an adequate supply of much-needed 
green vegetables and other fresh provisions ; they 
were, in fact, preserved from scurvy and beri-beri, \ 
which wrought such havoc amongst the forces and 
labour corps in the early days of the Mesopotamian 
campaign. 

Twenty-five years ago I took a photograph of a 
group of reed-mat dwellings on the banks of the 
Karun River near Mohammerah, where to-day are 
the magnificent offices and buildings of the Anglo- 
Persian Oil Company. In addition to these offices 
there are other groups of buildings and oil-tanks 
connected with the refinery farther south, at Abadan, 
which cover an area of over two square miles of land, 
where nearly 9000 men are constantly employed. 
The crude oil is brought from seven different wells 
through 200 miles of pipe line. It was twenty 
years ago that I also secured photographs of some 



248 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

of the primitive oil-refineries which belong to the 
Bakhtiari chiefs, who derived very small profits 
from their elementary methods of refining a little 
oil. They are to-day much better off, large 
numbers of their people have regular employment, 
and the Persian Government itself has been saved 
from bankruptcy largely by the development of 
these oil-fields. On the outbreak of war the 
Germans incited the Bakhtiari chiefs to seize the 
oil-wells. They argued that the chiefs would be 
better off if the oil-wells entirely belonged to them, 
and they, of course, offered to lend their assistance 
in scientifically working the wells ; but the wiser 
men pointed out to the Germans that they had no 
ships on the seas, and without a fleet the oil could 
not be sold. In a recent report of the Anglo- 
Persian Oil Company the chairman gave some re- 
markable figures, and stated that, although a com- 
paratively small area of the fields embraced in the 
Company's concessions had thus far been developed, 
yet the output from seven wells is already larger 
than the pre-war production of the whole of the 
Roumanian andGalician oil-fields, where 40,000,000 
sterling has been sunk and more than 2000 wells 
opened. It was said, moreover, that the quality 
of the Persian oil is better than the Roumanian 
and Galician oil. The crude product is rich in 
benzine and kerosene ; it yields good lubricating 
oil, fuel oil of high thermal efficiency, and first-rate 
paraffin wax. The wells are now yielding 5,000,000 
tons a year, and the extraordinary rate of output is 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 249 

likely to be well maintained ; almost the whole pipe 
line has been twice relaid with pipes of larger capa- 
city, so there is now a 10-inch pipe line of over 150 
miles long. The Company has allocated 5,000,000 
for the construction of a refinery near Swansea in 
South Wales ; it has acquired the shale oil-fields in 
Scotland ; it owns quite a good fleet of oil-ships, and 
it has increased its capital funds to 20,000,000. 
It is believed there are still more valuable oil-fields 
in other parts of Mesopotamia, and it is probable 
that the oil-fields north of Baghdad will prove to 
be some of the most valuable deposits in the world. 
I once came down the Tigris from Mosul upon a 
raft of inflated sheepskins, when we passed by a 
rock in the middle of the river, not far from Gyara, 
out of which there flowed a copious stream of oil 
that polluted the river for many miles below. 
An aerial survey of the Syrian desert has been made 
with a view to ascertaining the best route for an 
oil pipe line from Mesopotamia to the Mediterra- 
nean Sea. 

Baghdad, that in pre-war days was a dirty, 
disorderly city, decimated and impoverished when 
the British entered it, has now become a bustling 
hi]|e of activity. The dark, narrow streets that 
were so badly illuminated by feeble little oil-lamps 
are now well lighted by electricity, and the main 
thoroughfare which runs through the town has 
become a well-metalled motor road. There is an 
excellent police force guarding the city and regulat- 
ing the traffic, and to the astonishment of the Arabs 



250 MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 

there is an efficient fire brigade, a thing unheard of 
under the Turkish administration. The picturesque 
water-carriers have, almost disappeared. It was 
nothing uncommon to see these men by the riverside 
scooping up drinking-water with a leather scoop 
and pouring it into the sheepskins, while at the 
same time a little higher upstream there would be 
women washing dirty clothes or men having a 
bathe ; but the Baghdad water supply has now been 
vastly improved, and regular waterworks convey 
ythe well-filtered element through pipes, as in the 
West, to the dwellings of the inhabitants. The 
Baghdad mosques have been repaired, all the roads 
have been properly relaid and metalled, many 
elementary schools have been opened, also a 
technical school and a training school for teachers. 
Another much -needed innovation gives untold 
pleasure to pedestrians : water-carts to lay the blind- 
ing and choking dust of the summer months were 
things unknown to the civilised Turk. The ever- 
active sanitary squads have cleansed the city of 
its noisome smells, though a selection of savoury 
odours remains in its labyrinth of bazaars. It is 
no longer possible to meet a variety of sick, wounded, 
and starving animals, covered with sores, for they 
can now be received into a home where they are 
properly tended, and only when well are they 
iv handed back to their owners. 

The Basra Times is a flourishing newspaper 
published in Arabic, Persian, and English, while in 
Baghdad there is a Government Press that gives 



X) 



TRANSFORMATION OF MESOPOTAMIA 251 

publicity to everything that might prove interesting 
and helpful to the people. It openly publishes 
the amount of revenue that has been raised, the 
sources from which it has been obtained, with 
details as to how the money is being spent. It 
reports upon the progress of irrigation schemes and 
improvements in agriculture ; it gives advice on 
a variety of mercantile subjects, details of schools 
available for the children and the many municipal 
hospitals that have been opened for the sick. 

The most striking achievements of the Civil 
Commissioner and his staff are the most difficult to 
describe. They have largely succeeded in bringing 
about the moral reformation of a people that was 
despised by the Turks and treated as swine by the 
Germans. Tribal warfare has given place to satis- 
factory methods of arbitration, and one day's 
conference with the disputants suffices to settle 
a boundary quarrel which in olden times required 
a year's fighting, frequent raids and punitive ex- 
peditions. The Arab chiefs are loyally co-operating 
with the new administrators, for there is plenty 
of water to be had for their fertile land, plenty of 
markets available for their produce, and cheap 
transport by rail, river, or road, numbers of hospitals 
for their sick, schools for their children, and impartial 
justice for all. The most desolate country in the 
world is being rapidly transformed into something 
like a paradise once again. 



Ind 



ex 



Abadan, 96, 240, 247. 

Abd'l Hamid, 31, 143, 209. 

Abraham, 152. 

Abu Habba, 142. 

Abu Musa, island of, 78. 

Abu Shahrain, 148. 

Abu Sofyan, 162. 

Abu Suleib, 89. 

Accad, 146. 

Acre, 31, 68. 

Adana, 61. 

Affej marshes, 146. 

Afghanistan, 35, 122, 200, 207. 

Aga Khan, 207. 

Ahava, 99. 

Ahwas, 99. 

Ain Sofar, 67. 

Ain Sufni, 136. 

Aintab, 61. 

Aker Koof, 140. 

Aleppo, 41, 46, 61, 65, 69, 195. 

Alexander the Great, 44, 45, 70, 

138, 139, 144, M5. 
Alexandretta, 61. 
Alfred the Great, 189. 
Ali, the Khalif, 162. 
Alton Kupri, 138. 
Amanus Mountains, 58. 
Amara, 63, 154, 241. 
Ambar, 141. 
America, 121, 150. 
Amman, 67. 
Ana, quarries of, 742. 
Ana's Tomb, Shaiba, 100. 
Anglo-Persian Oil Company, 28, 

120^248. 



Angora, 54, 56, 61. 

Arabia, 201, 203, 204. 

Arbela, 138. 

Armenia, 17, 33, 168, 174, 202, 

230. 
Ashdod, 133. 

Asia Minor, 41, 69, 166, 189. 
Asshur, 44, 137. 
Asshurbanipal, 44, 133, 134, 151 
Asshur-nasirapal, 135. 
Assyria, 43, 131, 137, 168, 227. 

Baalbec, 66. 

Babel Street, 142. 

Babi sect, 31, 152. 

Babil Mound, 143, 145. 

Babylon, 30, 41, 44, 63, 131, 132, 
136, 143, 245. 

Baghche tunnel, 59, 127. 

Baghdad, 17, 18, 21, 23, 30, 32, 
36, 54, 63, 119, 124, 131, 
144, 158, 173, 174, 194, 203, 
206, 208, 218, 224, 226, 241. 

Bahrain, 78, 79, 83, 97. 

Bahsani, 179. 

Bakhtiari chiefs, 204, 248. 

Bakuba, 63, 246. 

Balawat, 136. 

Balkan Provinces, 33, 35. 

Banians, Indian, 77, 81. 

Bank, Deutsche, 36, 54. 

Barjisiyeh, 100. 

Barrett, General, 124. 

Bartolli, 175. 

Bashaikah, 178. 



252 



INDEX 



253 



Basra, 17, 21, 29, 63, 158, 195, 
224, 225, 226, 239, 249. 

Bavian monuments, 136. 

Beazeley, Col., R.E., 139. 

Bedouin, 89, 131. 

Bedry Bey, 143. 

Bejwans, 154. 

Bektash Dervishes, 159. 

" Bellums," 238. 

Belshazzar, 148. 

Berlin- Baghdad Railway, 22, 33, 
36. 

Bikanir, Maharajah of, 214. 

Bird life, 228. 

Birijik, 61. 

Birs Nimrood, 145. 

Borsippa, 145. 

Bosphorus, 126. 

Bosra-Eski-Sham, 67. 

Botta, 135, 149, 150. 

Boundary Commissioners, 165. 

Bozanti, 59. 

Brest-Litovsk Treaty, 38. 

Brigandage, 21, 65. 

British and Foreign Bible Society, 

195. 
Bruce, Dr, 195. 
Bunder Abbas, 74. 
Bushire, 84. 
Byzantine Empire, 203. 



Cairo, 37, 123, 131, 203, 212. 

Calah, 135. 

Calcutta, 174, 202. 

Calneh, 146. 

Cappadocia, 42. 

Carchemish, 132. 

Carduchi, 170. 

Carmelites, 196. 

Caspian Sea, 40. 

Caucasus, 61, 157, 171, 202. 

Centipedes, 219. 

Chaldeans, Christian, 21, 169, 

196. 
Chaldean stories, 133. 
Chamberlain, Mr, 202. 
Chebar, 139. 
Chelebi Effendi, 58. 
" Cherad," no. 



Chesney, General, 149. 
China, 45, 190, 191. 
" Chole " (desert), 227. 
Chosroes II, arch of, in, 140, 

192, 193. 
Church Missionary Society, 31, 

194. I 95- 
Cilicia, 61. 
Cilician Gates, 42. 
Columbus, 47. 
Commissioner, Civil, 251. 
Commission, Empire Resources 

Development, 28. 
German Railway, 91. 
Mesopotamian, 17, 126. 
Congleton, Lord, 194. 
Congress, Central Europe, 39. 
Cbnstantine the Great, 178. 
Constantinople, 1, 33, 150, 202, 

203, 208, 210, 223. 
Museum, 134. 
Cordova, 192. 
Cotton, 19, 20, 60. 
Cowley, Commander C, V.C., 

117, 118. 
Cox, Sir Percy, 124. 
Crewe, Earl of, 200, 203. 
Cronin, Mrs, 195. 
Crusaders, 90, 203. 
Ctesiphon, 44, 98, 126, 140, 160, 

192. 

Damascus, 36, 67, 205, 210. 
Dancing Dervishes, 57. 
Danube, 38, 48. 
Dara, 133. 
Dardanelles, 126. 
Darius, 138. 
Date gardens, 238. 
groves, 21, 228. 
Decauville lines, 60, 68. 
Dehi, 179, 184. 
Dehok, 179, 182. 
Deir-Zor, 142. 
Delamain, General, 83, 87. 
Delhi, 203. 
Deraa, 67, 68. 
De Sarzec, 149. 

Devil-worshippers (see Yezidees), 
156, 



254 



MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 



Diala, 139, 243, 246. 
Diarbekir, 42, 54, 61. 
Dibban, 63. 
Dilhim, 143. 
Diwanieh, 221. 
Driver, Dr, 229. 
Druzes, 37, 154. 
Dungi, King, 147. 
Dur-Sharrukeen, 135. 



Ea, father of Merodach, 148. 
Eastern Telegraph Company, 74. 
East India Company, 73, 149. 
Edessa, 44, 189. 
Egypt, 19, 34, 61, 68, 198, 202, 

241. 
Ellasar, 147. 
El-Hasa, 71. 
El-Hibba, 149. 
El-Karaina, 143. 
El-Kasr (Babylon), 144. 
El-Ohaimir, 143. 
England, 198. 
Enver Pasha, 126. 
Ephesus, 42. 
Erebil, 138, 177. 
Erech, 146. 
Eridu, 148. 

Erzeroom, 61, 122, 165. 
Esagila, 145. 
Eski-Baghdad, 139. 
Eski-Shehr, 54, 56. 
E-temen-an-ki, 145. 
Euphrates, 61, 63, 70, 107, 162. 
Europus, 132. 
Ezarhaddon, 135. 
Ezekiel's Tomb, 153. 
Ezra's Tomb, 153. 



Feisal, Emir, 98. 

Felujah, 63, 140. 

Firman Firma, 32. 

Force D, 120. 

Free Church of Scotland, 195. 

French, Bishop, 73. 



Galician oil, 248. 
Gallipoli, 113. 



Garden of Eden, 148, 153, 154, 

192, 216. 
Gaugamela, 138. 
Gaza, 41, 68. 
Genoa, 47. 

Germany's Turkish policy, 34. 
Ghussab's Fort, 113. 
Goa, 73. 

Gobi plateau, 40. 
Gomel, 136. 
Granada, 192. 
Groves, Anthony N., 194. 
Gunduk, 136. 
Gyara, 249. 

Haifa, 38, 67, 68. 

Hall, Mr, 148. 

Halul, 82. 

Hama, 66. 

Hamadan, 64. 

Hamburg-American Steamship 

Company, 81, 97. 
Hammurabi, 143. 
" Hanging Gardens," 144. 
Hardinge, Lord, 202. 
Haroun '1 Raschid, 44, 140, 189, 

191. 
son of, 139. 
Hatra, 136. 

Hauran Mountains, 38. 
Hedjaz Railway, 37, 67. 
Herodotus, 42. 
Hewett, Sir John, 246. 
Hillah, 63, 145, 165. 
Hilprecht, Professor, 146. 
" Hindiah " flood, 245. 
Hit, 19, 44, 142. 
Hittite Empire, 42, 132. 
Holy War, 197, 201, 205, 211, 

214. (See Jehad.) 
Hotzch, Herr Otto, 34. 
Hums, 66. 
Hyderabad, Nizam of, 207. 

Ibn Hebraeus, 176. 

Ibn Raschid, 85, 206, 207. 

Ibn Saood, Sheikh, 91, 92, 206, 

207. 
Imams, 158, 160. 



INDEX 



255 



India, 19, 35, 44, 69, 172, 189, 
190, 198, 201, 206, 209, 212. 
Indian Marine, Royal, 77. 
Inland waterways, 38, 40. 
Irak, 19, 25, 237. 
Iranian plateau, 43. 
Irrigation, 19, 26, 29, no, 139, 

245. 
Is (Ihi-da-Kira), 142. 
Isa Canal, 141. 

Ishtar, goddess, 132, 136, 144. 
Islam, 23, 24, 152, 158, 191, 200, 

203. 
Islam, Sheik '1, 198. 
Ismid, 52, 53. 

Jabr, Sheikh, 91. 

Jabriyeh, 142. 

Jackson, Sir John, 231, 245. 

Jacobites or Western Syrians, 

168, 176. 
Jaffa, 68. 
Jask, 74. 

Jebel Maklub, 176. 
Jebel Sinjar, 136. 
Jedda, 67, 205. 
" Jehad," 198, 200, 203, 210, 

214. (See Holy War.) 
Jehaila Canal, 242. 
Jehu, 135. 
Jerablus, 61, 132. 
Jericho, 67. 

Jerusalem, 32, 67, 68, 132, 188. 
Jezireh, 175. 
Johnson, Dr, 195. 
Josephus, 153. 
Joshua the High Priest, 153. 
Jovian, 133. 
Judaism, 152. 
Julian, 44. 
" Julnar," 117, 118. 
Jumjumah, 145. 
Jupiter, moons of, 141. 

Kaiseriyeh, 54. 
Kalah-Salah, 243. 
Kalah-Sharghat, 137. 
Kantara, 68. 
Karun river, 247. 



Kasmain, 21, 64, 160. 

Kasr-'l-Nil, 241. 

Kasr-i-Shirin, 63, 193. 

Kefil, 153. 

Kerbela, 21, 27, 31, 164, 207, 208, 

209, 245. 
Kerkuk, 138. 
Kermakah, 182. 
Kerman, 74, 75. 
Kermanshah, 43, 64. 
Khabur river, 133, 227. 
Khalifs, 18, 139, 158. 
Khalis Canal, 246. 
Khatti, 42. 
King, Dr, 149. 
Kish, 143. 

Kitchener, Lord, 37. 
Kitto, John, 194, 195. 
Kizilbashis, 154. 
Kochanes, 169. 
Koldewey, Dr, 149. 
Konia, 54, 57. 
Koran, 158, 159, 166, 199. 
Koreish tribe, 162. 
Koweit, 88, 206, 244. 
Kufa, 158, 162, 163, 221. 
Kurdistan, 23, 168, 171, 230. 
Kurds, 21, 26, 65, 123, 131, 169, 

170. 
Kuretu, 63, 64. 
Kurigalzu, King, 141. 
Kurna, 63, 94, 151, 216. 
Kustamuni, 127. 
Kuyunjik, 133, 134, 151, 175. 



Labour leaders, 27. 

Lachish, 134. 

Lake, General, 234. 

Larsam, 147. 

Layard, Sir Henry, 134, 135, 149. 

Lebanon Railway, 66, 67. 

Levant Company, 46, 74. 

Lewin, Mr Evans, 43. 

Lichnowsky, Prince, 35. 

Lingah, 77. 

Liquorice, 21, 228. 

Lloyd George, Mr, 120. 

London, 50, 69, 135. 

Ludd, 66, 67, 68. 



256 



MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 



Maan, 67. 

Maaruf '1 Kerkhi, Sheikh, 140, 

159. 
Macedonia, 33. 
MacMunn Bridge, 242. 
Maghil, 240. 
Mahmoudiyeh, 143. 
Malabar, 189. 
Malta, 194. 
Mamoun, Khalif, 159. 
Mandaitic language, 154. 
Manytch Depression, 40. 
Marash, 61. 
Marco Polo, 74. 
Mardin, 61, 169. 

Marduk's Temple (Babylon), 144. 
Mar Ebrahom, 177. 
Marseilles, 48, 212. 
Marshall, Captain, 26. 
Mar Shimoon, 169. 
" Mathhab " (sect), 153. 
Matti, Sheikh, 176. 
Maude, General, no, 241. 
Mecca, 23, 43, 159, 162,200,204. 
Median Wall, 146. 
Medina, 67, 158, 162. 
Merodach, 148. 
Mersine, 61. 

Meshed Ah, 163. (See Nejif.) 
Mezerib, 66. 
Midhat Pasha, 224. 
Mohammed, 156, 158, 162. 
Mohammerah, 247. 
Moharrem, 164, 207. 
Montenegro, 198. 
Morgenthau, Ambassador, 197, 

199. 
Morocco, 159, 198. 
Moshi, 199. 
Moslems, 23, 158, 166, 191, 198, 

204, 214. 
Mosquitoes, 217, 219. 
Mosul, 19, 61, 63, 132, 172, 182. 
Mount Carmel, 68. 
Muadham, 158, 159. 
Muawiyeh, 162, 163. 
Mubarek, Sheikh, 91, 92. 
Mugheir, 147. 
Muharrek, 80. 
Mujellibeh, 143. 



Mujtahid, 158, 207, 209. 
Muscat, 71, 72, 207. 
Muslimiyeh, 61. 
Mustansir, 140. 
Mylapore, 189. 

Nabonidos, 142. 

Nabopolasar, 145. 

Nahrwan Canal, 138, 139. 

Naram-Sin, 142, 151. 

" Narrows, The," 243, 244. 

Nasiriyeh, 63, 147. 

Navy, Royal, 46, 71, 76, 93. 

" Nazeez," 233. 

Nearchus, 70. 

Near East, 34, 50. 

Neatby, Dr, 194. 

Nebo (god), 145. 

Nebuchadnezzar, 44, 145. 

Neby Yunis, 133, 134, 175. 

Nejd, 206. 

Nejif, 26, 27, 163, 206, 207, 221. 

Nestorians, 168, 188, 190. 

Newman, Francis W., 194, 195. 

Niffer, 139, 146, 150, 151, 220, 

221. 
Nimrood (Calah), 134, 135. 
Nineveh, 44, 131, 133, 136, 170. 
Nisibin, 61, 132, 133, 175. 
Nixon, Sir John, 124. 
Nizamut Jung, Nawab, 212. 
Nizir, 170. 
Noah, 57, 229. 

Ocean, H.M.S., 84. 

Oelwein, Professor, 39. 

Oil, 96, 120, 227, 248. 

O'Malley, Sir E., 208. 

Oman, Gulf of, 74. 

Omar Bey El Farouky, 205. 

Omdehs, 241. 

Opis, 139. 

Oppert, 151. 

Orient Express, 51, 132. 

Ornithomancy, 152. 

Orontes, 48. 

Osman, Khalif, 162. 

Ottoman Empire, 24, 50. 

Oudh, King of, 209. 



INDEX 



257 



Paris Conference, 23, 24. 
Parnell (Lord Congleton), 194, 

195- 
Parsees of Bombay, 192. 
"Pearl Islands," 80, 81. 
Pekin, 45, 50, 189. 
Pennsylvania, University of , 146. 
Persia, 23, 122, 131, 171, 173, 

189, 200. 
Shah of, 202, 210. 
Petra, 67. 

Petrograd, 28, 50, 211. 
Petroleum, 96, 121. (See Oil.) 
Phoenicians, 70. 
Pilgrims, 21, 65, 85, 131, 160, 

164, 233. 
Pirates, 76, 93. 
Plato, 192. 

Plymouth Brethren, 194. 
Poems : ' ' India to England ,"213. 

"The Roadmakers," 127. 
Population, census, 16. 
Porter, Robert Ker, 149. 
Portuguese, 70. 
Prester John, 189. 
Principo, 125. 
Punjab, 202. 

Queen Elizabeth, 46, 73. 

" Rabia " (verdure), 227. 

Rafts, 249. 

Rahabah, 142. 

Rainfall, 19. 

Ras '1 Ain, 61, 132, 133. 

Rassam, Hormuzd, 136, 142, 149. 

Rawlinson, Sir Henry, 149, 170. 

Rayak, 166. 

Red Cross, 212. 

Red Sea, 67. 

Reformation, the, 192. 

Reuss, Prince, 122. 

Rhodes, 37. 

Rice, 227. 

Rich, Claudius J., [149. 

Roman Emperors, 188. 

Rome, 131. 

Church of, 169. 
Rowanduz, 170, 174. 



" Royal Road," 42. 
Rumanian oil, 121, 248. 
Russia, 38, 54, 75, 123, 198, 202. 
Russian oil, 121. 



Sabeans, 131, 152, 154, 155. 

Sabkha, 142. 

Saeki, Professor, 190. 

St Thomas, 188, 190. 

" Christians of," 189. 
Saladin, 44. 
Salihiyeh, 142. 
Salkhad, 67. 
Salman Pak, 160. 
Salonika, 48. 

Salzmann, Captain von, 34. 
Samarkand, 131. 
Samarra, 62, 63, 139, 160. 
Sami Pasha, 37. 
Sargon I., 142, 146. 
Sargon II., 133, 135. 
Sassanians, 137. 
Scorpions, 218. 
Scutari, 52, 54. 
Seistan, 64. 
Selamlik, 33. 
Selim the Grim, 133. 
Senkere, 147. 
Sennacherib, 44, 134, 136. 
Senna-i-yat, 119, 234. 
Senussi, 202. 
Serbia, 34, 198. 

Sergius, saint and martyr, 193. 
Severus, 137. 
Shabakahs, 154, 178. 
Shaiba, 98, 238. 
Shakespear, Captain, 207. 
Shalmaneser II., 135, 136. 
Shamash, 142. 
Shammar tribe, 206. 
Shat '1 Arab, 97. 
Shat '1 Hai, 107. 147. 
Shat '1 Nil, 139, 145. 
Shatra, 147. 
Shereef of Mecca, 205. 
Shereefian Boundary, 142. 
Shiah sects, 27, 162, 207, 210. 

Passion Play, 164. 
Shinar, land of, 19, 146. 

17 



258 



MARVELLOUS MESOPOTAMIA 



Shiraz, 149. 

Shirin (or Sira), 193. 

Sifaira, 141. 

'* Silk Street," 45, 46. 

Simla, 174. 

Sinaitic Desert, 68. 

Sinjar Mountains, 176. 

Sippara, 142. 

Sitt-Zobeida, 140. 

Sivas, 42, 54, 61. 

Slaves, 71. 

Smith, George, 133, 149, 229. 

Smuts, General, 199. 

Smyrna, 57. 

Socialism, 25. 

Soudan, 202, 227. 

Star- worship, 152, 154. 

Stein, Sir Aurel, 45. 

Stern, Rev. A., 195. 

Stories : 

Donkey's shrine, 160. 

Pilgrims and steamer, 85. 

Shah and Bakhtiari chief, 204. 

Sheffield soldier and Garden 
of Eden, 217. 

Sultan and conjurer, 209. 

Turk and goat, 113. 
Sublime Porte, 126. 
Suez Canal, 34, 47, 68, 123, 212. 
Sufis, 152. 

Suk-esh-Shuyukh, 146. 
Suleimaniyeh, 65. 
Sumerian age, 149. 
Sumir, 146. 
Sun-god, 147. 
Sunnis, 158, 207. 
Sunstroke, 179. 
Surghul, 149. 
Susa, 42. 
Swansea, 249. 
Sykes, Sir Percy, 75. 
Syria, 65, 70, 198, 205. 
Syrian desert, 249. 



Talmud, 153. 
Tamerlane, 138. 
Taurus, 58, 59. 
Taylor, Mr W 148. 
Tel-Amran, 144, 145. 



Tel-Ibrahim, 143. 

Tel-Keif, 187. 

Tello, 147, 149. 

Tel-Manjur, 139. 

Tel-Obeid, 148. 

Thapsacus, 44. 

Tharthar, river, 136. 

The Near East, 29, 127. 

Theodosius, 133. 

Thompson, Captain, 148. 

Tiflis, 61. 

Tiglath-pileser, 44. 

Tigris, 19, 107, 151, 195, 222, 

243. 
Tikrit, 63, 139. 
Tobacco, 174. 
Tower of Babel, 140, 145. 
Townshend, General, 109, 112, 

119, 122, 124. 
Trajan, 44, 137. 
Turkey, 27, 201, 211. 
Turkish Empire, 23, 24, 33, 35. 

Government, 171. 
Turks, 164, 207, 225. 



Umaiyeh, 163. 

Uniat communities, 196. 

Upper Halys, 42. 

Upper Zab, 177. 

Ur, 147, 148. 

Urfa, 61. 

Urumiah, 179. 



Vasco da Gama, 47, 189. 
Venice, 47. 
Vienna, 33, 203. 



Wangenheim (German Ambas- 
sador), 197. 
Warka, 146. 
Wheat, 19, 57, 238. 
Wilson, President, 35. 
Wolff, Joseph, 195. 
Wonckhaus, 81, 84. 
Wool, 21, 56. 



Xenophon, 139, 170. 



INDEX 



250 



Yambo, 67. 

Yazid, 163. 

Yezd, 74. 

Yezidees, 131,152, 154, 156. (Sez 

Devil-worshippers.) 
Young Turks, 31. 



Zab, Lower, 138. 



Zagros, Gates of, 43. 
Zamzuma, 153. 
Zanzibar, Sultan of, 207. 
Zaptiah, 184, 221, 236. 
Zenobia's ruins, 142. 
Zeppelins, 40, 211. 
Zodiac, signs of, 141. 
Zoroastrianism, 152. 
Zubeir, 238. 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY NEILL AND CO., LTD., EDINBURGH 



THIS BOOK IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE 
STAMPED BELOW 


AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

WILL BE ASSESSED FOR FAILURE TO RETURN 
THIS BOOK ON THE DATE DUE. THE PENALTY 
WILL INCREASE TO 50 CENTS ON THE FOURTH 
DAY AND TO $1.00 ON THE SEVENTH DAY 
OVERDUE. 










1 '* *' If 


w "5 1 














J UL 25 195 


tiSEP 1 O iniu 




cr -* 1938 






* 


HOct'SBMrtI 
















05~ 9GW$ 
























LD 21-100m-8,34 



r 



YB&229 




458332 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY